Cutting Costs Without Cutting Corners

Most doctors are trained to make patient-care recommendations without regard for cost. This can be a problem. Such was the case for one physician’s patient who returned for his next visit without having gotten tests and medications the doctor ordered. “I couldn’t afford them,” the patient said, embarrassed. Had the doctor known, he could have discussed doing without the test along with prescribing a low-cost generic medicine.

With overall health-care costs rising, many people must consider their out-of-pocket costs. Yet, many doctors do not know the cost of tests and medications or what their patients can and cannot afford.

What can you do?

1. Ask how much a test or treatment costs. Tell your doctor you want to be an informed consumer and need to know before committing to follow-through.

2. If an expensive test is ordered, ask how the results will change the doctor’s treatment plan or if a treatment decision can be made without the test.

3. If an expensive treatment is ordered, ask if there are less-expensive options available. What are the risks and benefits of taking the less expensive approach?

By dealing with costs head-on, your doctor can work with you to find the best approach for your personal situation.

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