Should Docs Be More Responsible for Curbing Health Costs?

July 25, 2013

Physicians say other healthcare players bear a greater responsibility for lowering costs. Are they shirking their duties, or is it more up to others in the industry?

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"15746","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_4630790905255","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"808","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"margin: 5px; float: right; height: 150px; width: 150px;","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]Physicians are pointing to others in the healthcare industry to bear a greater burden for lowering healthcare costs, according to a new survey.

In fact, physicians weren’t keen on changes in payment models that aim to contain costs.

Though they report having some responsibility for curbing costs, here’s who they reported as having “major responsibility:”

  • Trial lawyers (60 percent)
  • Health insurance companies (59 percent)
  • Hospitals and health systems (56 percent)
  • Pharmaceutical and device manufacturers (56 percent)
  • Patients (52 percent)

Just 36 percent reported that physicians bear that responsibility.

The authors of the study, published in the Journal for the American Medical Association, noted that physicians have been called on to play a key role in healthcare spending through initiatives aimed at reducing waste - which makes their opinions on cost containment responsibilities relevant.

Yet, 70 percent said they were not enthusiastic about eliminating fee for service and 65 percent opposed bundled payments, despite supporting other quality and safety initiatives.

“This is a denial of responsibility,” Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, and Andrew Steinmetz, BA, wrote in an accompanying editorial. “Of course, physicians do not want to be blamed for the country’s major problem. But can they really be both the captain of the ship and cede responsibility for cost control to almost everyone else?”

Do you agree? Are physicians denying shirking the responsibility, or should others really bear the larger burden for cutting costs?