FDAnews Device Daily Bulletin

Specialists Not Concerned With Patients' Diagnostics Costs

April 11, 2007

Physicians only consider patients' out-of-pocket costs 40.2 percent of the time when selecting diagnostic tests, according to a study published in the April 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study found that primary care physicians consider out-of-pocket costs 46.3 percent of the time, while medical specialists considered patients' costs 29.9 percent of the time, Hoangmai Pham, a researcher with the Center for Studying Health Care System Change, and co-authors wrote.

The study, which analyzed data from the 2004 and 2005 Community Tracking Study Physician Surveys, suggested that specialists are more resistant to considering out-of-pocket costs, in part because "some specialist physicians are more likely to perform many types of diagnostic procedures through self-referrals, which may create perverse disincentives for them to consider patients' cost burdens in selecting individual tests."