Focus Groups Highlight That Many Patients Object To Clinicians' Focusing On Costs

Health Affairs (Impact Factor: 4.97). 02/2013; 32(2):338-46. DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2012.0686
Source: PubMed


Having patients weigh costs when making medical decisions has been proposed as a way to rein in health care spending. We convened twenty-two focus groups of people with insurance to examine their willingness to discuss health care costs with clinicians and consider costs when deciding among nearly comparable clinical options. We identified the following four barriers to patients' taking cost into account: a preference for what they perceive as the best care, regardless of expense; inexperience with making trade-offs between health and money; a lack of interest in costs borne by insurers and society as a whole; and noncooperative behavior characteristic of a "commons dilemma," in which people act in their own self-interest although they recognize that by doing so, they are depleting limited resources. Surmounting these barriers will require new research in patient education, comprehensive efforts to shift public attitudes about health care costs, and training to prepare clinicians to discuss costs with their patients.

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