How medical costs affect a patient’s decision-making was the focus of a recent study, published on 4/4/2016 in the journal, Health Affairs. The lack of discussion on savings as well as on medical costs can undermine patients’ health, leading them to skimp on valuable preventive care. Physicians need to be prepared to hold productive conversations about health care expenses with their patients, according to Peter Ubel, physician and behavioral scientist at Duke University. There are two ways researchers noted in which doctors dismissed patients’ financial concerns. They either didn’t acknowledge them or only addressed them halfway. Doctors haven’t been taught to listen for patients’ pocketbook concerns. The study further indicated that doctors discussed medical costs with patients about 30 percent of the time and when they did talk about it, they didn’t talk about it productively. Ubel said that physicians hesitate because they aren’t used to discussing cost barriers and many think it’s inappropriate to bring up money. On the other hand, people worry that discussing finances will “contaminate the doctor-patient relationship.” It is relatively new for patients to act as consumers in which they weigh costs and then shop for the best health care deal. In the future, patients may push doctors for help in making cost-based decisions, although neither consumers nor doctors can figure out what a drug will cost. For additional information, go to: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/04/04/472716738/patients-miss-out-on-savings-when-doctors=fail-to-talk-about-costs
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