Bioethics Blogs

Money Talk in the Doctor’s Office

Here is a well done story out of a public radio station on the new movement to get physicians to discuss out of pocket costs with patients. Warning– I’m a serious proponent of this practice.

Dear Impatient readers, you may have noticed that we’re writing a lot about the importance of asking about the cost of your health care. It’s part of our ongoing mission to give you the tools to navigate our rapidly changing medical system, particularly with regard to how much care costs.

Along the way we’ve talked about how patients – especially those on high-deductible health plans – should broach issues of cost with their doctors, even if it means having potentially awkward conversations. These discussions, experts advise, could spur doctors to be more cost-conscious when ordering tests or prescribing medications.

This week, we turn the tables and talk to some doctors who think they and their colleagues also need to be prepared to have these conversations.

Do no (financial) harm

Many doctors don’t think about health care costs, says Dr. Neel Shah, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. One reason for that, he says, is that they haven’t been trained to do so.

“In medical school, not only was I not taught anything about health care costs, but I was specifically taught that health care costs were not my concern,” says Shah, who’s also the founder and executive director of the non-profit Costs of Care.

Dr. Jeff Kullgren, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, takes that a step further.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.