The number of patients with high-deductible insurance plans is rising fast, and physicians need to have the right skills and processes in place to manage such plans effectively, according to an article in Medical Economics.
Although it’s still unclear to what extent high out-of-pocket costs can cause patients to delay care, research shows that the effect is real. According to a 2015 Commonwealth Fund report cited in the article, two out of every five adults with high-deductible plans reported limiting their care in some way.
Physicians should implement a standardized way of routinely asking patients about financial hardships, and they should document those conversations in the medical record, experts advise.
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California recommends explaining to patients that postponing care can result in much larger medical bills and far more serious health issues later on.
For example, a patient with diabetes might be reluctant to return for quarterly foot exams at more than $100 per office visit, he says. On the doctor’s part, it’s worth an attempt to explain that a little money invested upfront in office visits ideally will avoid landing in the hospital with a painful and costly foot amputation, Lee says.
Read the article.