Why Discussing the Cost of an MRI to Evaluate Knee Pain Can Be a Total Pain

knee painI want to share a wonderful blog post with you, written by one of “my” students, Laura Mortimer – a student in the Masters in Public Policy program at the Sanford School at Duke, who also happens to be a talented writer. In linking to her post, and then calling her my student, I of course am trying to grab credit for her accomplishments. What kind of mentor would I be if I didn’t try to do that? Here is her piece:

My right knee started bothering me on a long run a month ago. After weeks of pain, fruitless physical therapy, and no clear diagnosis, I had an MRI scan of my knee. Thankfully, nothing major showed up – just a persistent case of tendonitis. As a competitive runner hoping to compete in the Olympic Trials, I asked my doctor several questions: When will I be able to run again? What kind of cross-training should I do in the meantime? How many times a day should I ice? What can I do to keep this tendonitis from recurring? Should I hold off on buying plane tickets to that big race in December?

I failed to ask one important question, though: How much money will I have to pay for treatment? This failure is especially frustrating and surprising since my year-long Master’s Project focuses on clinical conversations about healthcare costs. I spend hours each week reading, writing, thinking, and talking about how doctors and patients can more effectively discuss out-of-pocket costs. If anybody should have the knowledge and resources to discuss medical costs, I should… (Read  more at Sanford Journal of Public Policy)

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