Costs of Care is a 501c3 nonprofit that is transforming American healthcare delivery by empowering patients and their caregivers to deflate medical bills.
Currently medical bills are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States, even among the insured. Meanwhile, more than $750 billion dollars are spent each year on tests and treatments that needlessly inflate medical bills without helping patients get better. That is the same amount of money that the Department of Defense estimates we spent on the entire Iraq War.
We believe that Americans can get their money back by trimming the fat out of medical bills – replacing or rejecting services that eat into our wallets without making us healthier.
The Problem: many medical bills are inflated with unnecessary care
Everyone agrees that making healthcare more affordable is a good idea – but having caregivers take responsibility for protecting patients’ wallets requires new skills, training, and tools.
Healthcare providers ultimately determine how 90% of healthcare dollars are spent. However, it is challenging for providers to know how their decisions will impact what patients pay.
Healthcare prices are notoriously opaque and vary considerably from patient to patient and service to service. Moreover, individual providers are also not trained to take responsibility for the larger societal costs that affect prices, they are (rightly) trained to take care of the patients directly in front of them.
Historically, physicians, nurses, and other caregivers have preferred to avoid thinking about costs when making medical decisions. Costs add a new dimension of complexity to an already difficult job. There is also the concern that thinking about costs is not always aligned with the best interest of the patient – except of course, for when it is.
Increasingly, caregivers are finding that patient expect them to look out for their wallets. As the hundreds of stories from patients and doctors Costs of Care has collected demonstrate, in may cases high value medical decisions benefit individual patients and society at large. When a patient saves money with a generic medication, everybody wins.
Just as the patient safety movement helped caregivers think about how to prevent unintended harm, a new movement is needed to help caregivers think about unintended financial harms as well.
The Solution: doctors, nurses, and other caregivers should protect patients from financial harm
Our approach has three parts:
1. ADVOCATE: creating a culture where caregivers are responsible for the cost and value of their decisions, take action to avoid waste, and help build the will for change
Read about the Costs of Care essay contest, where we crowdsource hundreds of anecdotes from all over the country that illustrate opportunities to improve the value of care.
2. EDUCATE: giving caregivers the knowledge and skills they need to make cost-conscious, high-value decisions with their patients
Read about the Teaching Value Project, an initiative of Costs of Care funded by the ABIM Foundation that will use web-based video education modules to teach care providers how to deflate medical bills.
3. SUPPORT: helping caregivers to deflate medical bills by using information technology and decision-support tools to put cost and quality information at their fingertips at the critical moment when medical decisions are made
Read about a Costs of Care iPhone app that is being developed to help clinicians make high value decisions.