Everyone agrees that making healthcare more affordable is a good idea – but having caregivers take responsibility for protecting patients’ wallets requires some breaks from tradition.
Healthcare providers ultimately determine how 90% of healthcare dollars are spent. However, they usually do not know how their decisions impact what patients pay.
At the same time, the United States wastes $750 billion per year and tests and treatments that don’t help patients get better. Medical bills remain one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy, even among patients with insurance.
This is not doctors’ fault. Or patients’ fault. Or nurses’ fault.
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.
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.
A Next Step
Sometimes a good story is worth a thousand academic papers. Costs of Care receives hundreds of stories from patients, doctors, nurses, and other caregivers that are sent from every corner of the country. These stories at the frontlines of American medicine describe the challenges of understanding medical bills along with clever ways to avoid unnecessary expenses, and all illustrate opportunities to improve the value of healthcare.
These stories are used to drive an important public discourse on the role of caregivers in healthcare spending.
They have been featured in the national media and in reports by policymakers such as the Institute of Medicine. They have inspired viral videos and educational case studies to teach medical students. They are helping build the will for change. If you have a story, we would love to hear it.