Great Consumer Reports Article on Our Research

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports

Donna Rosato, an excellent journalist at CR, as the cool kids call it, just published an excellent article highlighting some of our research on money talk in the doctor’s office. Here is a teaser.

A growing body of research has found that as people pay more out of pocket for their healthcare, they’re likely to put off treatment instead of seeking a lower cost option. One in five Americans with health insurance report having trouble paying medical bills, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times survey.

Patients typically don’t think to discuss cost with their doctors or they may be embarrassed disclosing money issues. But maybe they should.

“A doctor can often help you but only if the doctor is aware of the financial burden you are under,” says Peter Ubel, a physician and professor of Business, Public Policy and Medicine at Duke Fuqua School of Management. “A doctor also knows whether a particular strategy is medically safe for you.”

Research led by Ubel shows that conversations about cost occurred in 30 percent of visits, with doctors as likely as patients to bring up the topic. In a study published last month in the healthcare journal Medical Decision Making, researchers analyzed recorded conversations of 1,755 outpatient doctor visits from 2010 to 2014. The visits included patients with breast cancer talking to their oncologists, people with depression meeting with psychiatrists, and those with arthritis visiting rheumatologists. In all these meetings, the patients were faced with potentially high out-of-pocket costs.

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.