By some estimates, unnecessary treatment constitutes one-third of medical spending in the United States.
As savvy consumers, we must constantly balance our irrational human want for top-notch medical care (a desire that is frequently borne from misinformation and fear) with sound economic reason about what we actually need. A key approach to bending the health care cost curve is transparency and getting us all to think about what a medical procedure actually costs, not just the co-pay that you fork over to the receptionist. As the daughter of a no-nonsense nurse who exercised empathy but objectivity when I wanted to stay home sick from school, I have developed a common sense approach to my health care - mainly I don't go to the doctor when I have a cold. The financial impact, however, of taking an antibiotic that isn't going to help you (and may potentially harm you) is minimal compared with the growing problem of doctors ordering unnecessary tests and procedures that are driving up our health care costs at a rapid pace, one that is unsustainable.“Overuse is one of the most serious crises in American medicine,” said Dr. Lawrence Smith, physician-in-chief at North Shore-LIJ Health System and dean of the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine .
Perhaps most promising is the initiative's focus on the doctor-patient relationship as a partnership to lower health care spending. Empowering patients with more information and encouraging them to question their doctors is a good thing. A core tenet of the Campaign for Better Care is that improving the doctor-patient relationship, namely by helping consumers and their caregivers be good advocates for themselves, also improves quality and reduces costs. We look forward to seeing how the new recommendations impact patient care.
Policy Advocate and Staff Attorney