Just Say No: Concrete Steps to Cut Healthcare Spending
December 6, 2013 by Stephanie Potash
|Last year, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation and Consumer Reports teamed up to launch the “Choosing Wisely” campaign. Each of the 39 medical specialty societies has, within its arena, identified five specific medical screening or treatment procedures which are probably unnecessary under particular circumstances, but might be recommended by a physician eager to minimize personal liability and/or make more money from each patient.
The project also includes a set of articles on common medical situations or decision points which can help employees choose the right path.
The purpose of Choosing Wisely is “to promote conversations between patients and physicians about tests which may be ineffective, unnecessary or needlessly risky,” according to a Consumer Reports website enumerating “Consumer Health Choices.”
The physicians behind the effort are just as concerned about unnecessary procedures and tests as those who pay for them. One reason is many procedures and tests carry medical risks which may not be worth the benefit of the diagnostic screening or medical procedure in question. Also, most patients themselves, whether they have financial skin in the game (as most do) or not, are not hypochondriacs with an unlimited appetite for visits to the doctor.
The only apparent tie-in to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that employers offering health benefits obliged to expand the scope of medical services to satisfy “minimum essential benefits” standards (including preventive medicine) may experience a surge in employee utilization of services, some necessary, others not.
Here are examples of advice which came out of the Choosing Wisely campaign, with regard to some common tests and procedures from various medical specialty organizations. Each statement below can be found on this webpage along with an explanation, plus research citations to support the findings.
American Academy of Family Physicians:
American Academy of Pediatrics:
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American College of Cardiology
American Academy of Neurology:
American Academy of Ophthalmology
As noted, the site also features consumer-friendly articles on such topics as:
The Consumer Reports “Consumer Health Choices” website contains sets of free articles on tests and treatments, drugs and supplements, doctors, hospitals and even a set of prices (including a national range as well as national and local “fair” prices) for procedures ranging from brain MRIs to vasectomies as well as cosmetic procedures, such as breast augmentation/reduction.
As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Fortunately, employees are not horses. Leading them to independent information on medical and health topics will cause at least some of them to think twice about blindly following their doctors’ instructions, or taking matters entirely into their own hands with possible disastrous results.
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