Doesn’t Sound like the Cost Curve is Bending

Hospitals hoping to attract patients and build their brands are teaming up with medical-screening companies to promote tests aimed at consumers worried about potentially deadly heart disease or strokes. What their promotions don’t say is that an influential government panel recommends against using many of the tests on people without symptoms or risk factors…

Such screenings “not only can raise [health care] costs, but also can lead to additional testing that is harmful,” [Steven] Weinberger and two co-authors wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal in August, calling hospital involvement without disclosing potential downsides “unethical.” (Julie Appleby/Kaiser Health News)

Comments (12)

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  1. Pete says:

    This sort of reminds me of the whole Susan G. Komen breast cancer over-awareness thing.

    Unnecessary tests have always been a big part of the healthcare system.

  2. Gabriel Odom says:

    What will happen:
    The probability of a Beta Error (the error where the test falsely finds something wrong) will be very high. These hospitals know that if they scare the living daylights out of people, the people will sign up for a myriad of tests – making the hospital tons of money that would not have been spent on healthcare otherwise.

    This behavior is predatory and despicable.

  3. Roget says:

    Aren’t doctors required to tell you about the possible risks associated with testing, and when has a doctor ever thought additional tests were unnecessary?

  4. H. James Prince says:

    I feel like such a Republican right now, but WHO IN THE HELL IS PAYING FOR ALL THESE TESTS??

  5. Tim says:

    Over-testing is such a big problem in our health care system in general. I’ve gone through it and wasted a lot of money as a result.

  6. Sam says:

    Tim: I can also relate to that problem. Once I went through over ten different costly tests, many invasive, just because I had some abdominal pain and the doctors never found out what I had until someone told me it could something pretty simple…and bingo, simple it was. I have a hard time thinking these doctors didn’t know. This is related to the issue of how tests are just assigned needlessly, while driving the costs up for consumers.

  7. Tonya says:

    More over-spending for unnecessary tests. Great. Can’t wait to hear about the next developments of how our health care system continues to waste money and profit at the expense of the average patient. Disgusting.

  8. Marcus Weyland says:

    Some of these tests violate the Hippocratic oath to “first do no harm”.

  9. Maria Jimenez-Herrera says:

    All you people talk about is costs. My sister had a lump, and they found it from one of these screenings. It saved her life.

  10. Z says:

    “but also can lead to additional testing that is harmful”

    This seems like a bit of a stretch. I understand what they are getting at, I’m just not sure if I buy the whole thing.

  11. Susan says:

    Maria – Costs have to play a part. If we all got screened on a daily basis we’d never miss anything but it’d cost a lot. The point is we have limited funds. Do we spend $1 billion dollars on testing if it results in one life saved? We have to make choices on the most cost efficient means. If a test can do good – it may still be a net cost but worth it. So just because it costs doesn’t me we don’t do it. But let’s do it rationally.

  12. Studebaker says:

    There’s nothing wrong with testing for disease. The problem is that consumers are not evaluating whether or not to get these tests on the basis of what they are willing to pay for. A problem with a health care system where insurers and Medicare pay for most bills is that patients are an easy mark for scammers like hospitals who see it as part of their business model to get people to seek care for things they don’t need.

    It’s almost like if roofing contractors had a way to influence the weather.