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Patient-Provider Discussions About Cancer Treatment Costs Decrease Out-of-Pocket Spending

January 13, 2021

Patient-provider discussions about treatment costs is associated with lower out-of-pocket costs while maintaining the quality cancer care (Value Health. 2020;23[12]:1592-1598. doi:10.1016/j.jval.2020.08.002).

“Evidence is growing and suggests that patient–provider discussions about costs may help alleviate the adverse effects of financial toxicity,” wrote Young-Rock Hong, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Services Research Management, and Policy, University of Florida, Gainesville, and colleagues.

“What is currently unknown is how many patients with cancer engaged in patient–provider cost discussions about their treatment plan and how much of the effect of having cost discussions on actual patient out-of-pocket spending,” they continued.

This study aimed to investigate the effect of patient-provider cost discussions on patient out-of-pocket spending, as well as whether these discussions are associated with necessary cancer treatment receipt.

Data from the 2016-2017 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Experiences with Cancer Survivorship Supplement was used to identify cancer survivors in the US who reported having a discussion about treatment costs with their healthcare provider. Total out-of-pocket spending between those who had the discussion were compared with those who did not.

Only 10.4% of patients reported having a detailed cost discussion with their providers during their cancer care. A ~33.8% reduction in average total out-of-pocket spending was associated with cost discussions.

“Detailed patient–provider cost discussions were associated with lower average total out-of-pocket spending. Patients who had detailed cost discussions with providers did not seem to sacrifice the appropriate utilization of necessary cancer treatments,” concluded Dr Hong and colleagues.—Lisa Kuhns

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