18 'low-value' tests cost Minnesota patients $54.9M, Mayo and state study finds

Eighteen 'low-value' medical tests and diagnostic imaging procedures, which provide few benefits and potential harm to patients, cost Minnesotans $54.9 million in 2014, according to a first-of-its-kind study released Wednesday by the Mayo Clinic and Minnesota Department of Health, according to the Post-Bulletin.

The study showed Minnesota healthcare facilities conducted about 92,000 'low-value' diagnostic imaging procedures and 83,000 low-value disease screenings in 2014, raising concerns about patient safety and wasted resources. 

All 18 'low-value' tests in this study focused on medical circumstances where there was consensus regarding the test's value to patients. Although the study only focused on 18 'low-value' services, more than 450 types of low-value medical services exist, according to the American Board of Internal Medicine.

According to the report, 40 percent of the 'low-value' services studied were diagnostic imaging for basic headaches, making it the most costly and most common service studied.

Commercial health insurers absorbed more than half the costs of the 'low-value' services ($29.2 million) and patients paid $9.3 million out-of-pocket. Government payers such as Medicaid and Medicare covered the rest.

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