How to Avoid Unnecessary Medical Care and Health Care Costs

How to Avoid Unnecessary Medical Care and Health Care Costs

Sep 16 2015

Unnecessary medical care could be costing you hundreds of dollars. Learn how to save money and stay healthy.

When you’re sick, you deserve the best treatment options to help you feel better. There’s no question about that.

Since your health is important to you, taking extreme measures to combat illness or injury may seem like the best option. Be cautious though – when it comes to health care, more doesn’t always mean better.

Each year, unnecessary health care costs Americans millions of dollars, and influences rising health care prices.

Each year, unnecessary health care costs Americans millions of dollars, and influences rising health care prices.

Unnecessary care is the general overuse of health care resources including receiving excessive testing, medication, procedures or treatments. Some examples include: getting multiple x-rays, MRIs, CTs for the same complaint or hospitalization for conditions that can be treated as outpatient. Cost is not the only issue; excessive testing can also expose you to radiation and invasive procedures with side effects that may cause more harm than good when compared to simpler, and often more effective, treatment plans.

Why does unnecessary care happen?

The largest contributing factor to unnecessary care is a lack of communication between patients and doctors. When you’re concerned with your health or the health of a loved one, it can be easy to jump to conclusions and take more extreme measures. Sometimes patients request or insist upon further testing because of anxiety or self-diagnosis. But those options may cause more harm than taking a more cautious approach to testing or treatment. Doctors should be the ones to walk their patients and their families through all the options, including potential risks, to ensure they receive the right care, and the right amount of care.

Priority Health - Education - Health Care Costs - Talking over CostsHow can you avoid unnecessary care and cost?

The best way to avoid unnecessary care and cost is to be actively engaged in your health care and practice open communication with your doctor. By asking questions about specific procedures and treatments, you can make informed health care decisions based on data and evidence.

Ask these questions:

Do I need this test or procedure?

The answer should be clear and direct. Work with your doctor to decide the best treatment for your specific medical condition. Procedures should help you live a longer, healthier life, but should not be excessive or unnecessary.

What are the downsides?

Discuss the benefits and potential side effects of a treatment, procedure or medication. Weigh the risks of living with the symptoms of the condition itself versus the downsides of treatment.

Are there simpler, alternative options?

Seek alternative treatment options. Not all procedures are invasive or require excessive treatment. Ask for options to build your optimal treatment plan. Sometimes a simple lifestyle change could be the answer.

How much does it cost?

Ask if there are less expensive, yet effective treatment options. Know the cost before the care by using online cost-predicting tools such as Healthcare Blue Book or Priority Health’s Cost Estimator to make sure you’re getting a fair price for the procedures you need.

Asking these questions and communicating with your doctor can help you avoid unnecessary medical care and cost. Never dismiss the advice of a doctor without fully understanding their reason for recommending a particular treatment. Similarly, never insist on a particular treatment. Instead, work with your doctor to create a plan that benefits your specific need. There isn’t a one size fits all treatment for every condition, so knowing that you have care options can help you stay healthy while saving you money.