Just asking “How much will this cost?” makes a difference

October 2, 2013 in Member Stories

I had an awesome hour of squash with some old friends over the weekend.

Three days later I’m gritting my teeth through spasms in my lower back.

So I go see an orthopedist, or actually, his physician assistant.  She orders x-rays.  I assume that means one and ask, “How much will it cost?”  She looks at me with surprise.  Well, she says, if you’re worried about the cost we’ll justrun two.  We usually order a package of five, but you probably don’t need the five anyway.  I’ll look at the two and if I need more, we’ll take them.

How much did I save the system? Probably not more than a couple hundred bucks.  And I won’t get a share of the savings, but then I didn’t get any unnecessary radiation either.  A win all around, sort of.

I’d never met this PA and it didn’t fell right to suggest that she ask herself every time, does my patient really need five x-rays?  But I wonder: how often would asking about the cost make a difference in the treatment we receive.  My guess is, often.




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