A recent New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com * noted “The shift, little noticed outside the medical establishment but already controversial inside it, suggests that doctors are starting to redefine their roles, from being concerned exclusively about individual patients to exerting influence on how health care dollars are spent.”
“In practical terms, new guidelines being developed by the medical groups could result in doctors choosing one drug over another for cost reasons or even deciding that a particular treatment — at the end of life, for example — is too expensive. In the extreme, some critics have said that making treatment decisions based on cost is a form of rationing.”
“Traditionally, guidelines have heavily influenced the practice of medicine, and the latest ones are expected to make doctors more conscious of the economic consequences of their decisions — even though there is no obligation to follow them. Medical society guidelines are also used by insurance companies to help determine reimbursement policies.”
“The society of oncologists, alarmed by the escalating prices of cancer medicines, is developing a scorecard to evaluate drugs based on their cost and value, as well as their efficacy and side effects. It is expected to be ready by this fall.”
“Doctors can face some stark trade-offs. Studies have shown, for example, that two drugs are about equally effective in treating an eye disease, macular degeneration. But one costs $50 a dose and the other close to $2,000. Medicare could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year if everyone used the cheaper drug, Avastin, instead of the costlier one, Lucentis.”
* to read the full NYTs article “Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors” by Andre Pollack, highlight and click on open hyperlink http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/business/treatment-cost-could-influence-doctors-advice.html?_r=0
Note: This blog shares general information about understanding and navigating the health care system. For specific medical advice about your own problems, issues and options talk to your personal physician.