Health Literacy Could Reduce Medicare Expenses

MedPAC, the Congressional advisory committee on Medicare, discussed how to get patients more involved in their health decisions.

Patients — particularly minorities and those on Medicare – are not actively making decisions about their treatments and procedures because doctor-patient communication is poor, according to a study presented Thursday to MedPAC, the Congressional advisory committee on Medicare.

The result is a greater expense for Medicare and a lack of empowerment among patients.

"Once patients understand the risks and benefits of expensive procedures, they tend to opt for more conservative treatment options," said Rita Redberg, a MedPAC member and professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.

It's the reason physicians and hospitals are resisting training programs that would teach care providers to include patients in the decision-making process, Redberg said, because they lose money when patients choose less-costly options.

The deliberations of the 17 MedPAC members will be presented as recommendations to Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Source: National Journal