Toxic Side Effect: High Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs

rwjfWhen is the treatment worse than the disease? When the high costs associated with care become a financial burden for patients and in many cases prevent them from protecting their health, contends Peter Ubel, MD, a 2007 recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

“We have reached a point where patients’ out-of-pocket health care costs can have more of a negative impact on their quality of life than some illnesses,” Ubel says, citing the thousands of dollars in deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, and other charges that even burden people with health insurance. The potential financial devastation of the uninsured is also increasingly a factor, especially for people facing serious diseases.

Bringing Costs Out of the Closet

Ensuring that patients understand the possible side effects of a surgery, medical treatment or prescription drug is considered standard medical practice. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to warning patients about what they may have to pay for care. Engaging patients in a candid conversation about treatment costs is critical at a time when out-of-pocket costs for breast cancer treatment, for example, may run as high as $55,000, Ubel argues… (Read more at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

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