Patients reluctant to discuss financial strain of medical care with physicians, study finds

Although the high cost of medical care is among many Americans' top financial concerns, many patients avoid telling their physicians the drugs, services and procedures physicians order are causing them financial distress, according to the LA Times.

In a recent poll, online health social network Inspire asked patients and caregivers to identify the medical concerns they wish physicians better understood as part of a recent awareness campaign called "I Wish My Doctor Knew." In more than 700 responses, approximately 20 percent of respondents identified insurance coverage, disability insurance coverage paperwork and out-of-pocket medical costs, according to the report.

"What we see every day in our online community, and through this campaign, is that patients don't discuss fully with their doctors the financial toll of [their] disease," John Novack, Inspire's communications director, told the LA Times. "Many patients seem reluctant to bring it up at all … yet it's a very real hardship and it certainly affects their quality of life."

Conversations on the financial pressure of paying medical expenses — especially with increasingly high co-pays — is difficult for many patients to initiate, even though millions of people defer seeking necessary medical care to avoid their costs. According to Families U.S.A., a Washington healthcare advocacy organization, one in four adults with private insurance plans went without needed healthcare in 2014 because they could not afford the tests, treatments, follow-up care and drugs, according to the report.

The issue of unaffordable medical care prices "deserves priority in the doctor-patient encounter," Duke University professor Peter Ubel, MD, told the LA Times.

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