Patients with high-deductible plans may put off medical care

High-deductible insurance policies that require patients to pay out-of-pocket for some of their medical care have become more common. But the result has led some patients to put off treatment because of the cost, according to a Medical Economics report.

When patients decide to forego treatment and take risks that delay a diagnosis, they can potentially expose their physicians to a malpractice suit, according to the article. While high-deductible health plans create a financial reason for patients not to get treatment, physicians are held to the same standards of care that they always were, Rob Francis, chief operating officer of The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurer, told the publication.

So how can physicians protect themselves? Practices should standardize their policies and procedures for circumstances when a patient declines treatment because of cost, Ericka Adler, J.D, a partner at the Chicago-based law firm Roetzel & Andress, told Medical Economics.

Doctors should explain to patients why a recommended treatment is important and document in the medical record why a test or referral is being recommended and that the patient declined because of financial or insurance reasons, Francis said.

Doctors must also overcome their typical reticence about discussing the cost of care with patients, as FiercePracticeManagement previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the article