There is a lot of talk about healthcare cost reduction. In recent years, consumers have increasingly been encouraged by employers and insurers to help control rising health care costs by avoiding unnecessary tests, buying generic drugs and reducing visits to the emergency room, among other things. The hope is that a patient better educated and more engaged in health decisions will choose options that will promote better health and decrease costs.
Such “patient engagement” efforts assume that patients welcome the opportunity – or at least are willing – to get more involved in their own care. But as a study published in February 2013 the journal Health Affairs found, a majority of patients didn’t want to factor costs into their medical decisions, nor did they want their doctors to do so.
The study investigated the attitudes of 211 focus group participants in Washington, D.C., and Santa Monica, Calif., toward weighing their own out-of-pocket costs as well as the costs borne by their insurer in medical decisions. The participants, researchers said, did not generally understand how insurance works and felt little personal responsibility for helping to solve the problem of rising health care costs.
Most people still want the best treatment they can get, and it’s not up to them to analyze the costs.