Mayo survey says docs cite others for high healthcare costs

By Christopher Snowbeck

July 25, 2013 – 

Health care keeps getting more expensive, but physicians think the major contributors to the increase are trial lawyers, insurance companies and hospital systems — not doctors themselves.

What’s more, doctors are pessimistic that some of the payment reforms put forward by policy experts to help contain health care costs actually will work.

Those are some of the findings from a survey conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers in Rochester, Minn., to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Doctors believe they must help address health care costs, said Dr. Jon Tilburt, the Mayo Clinic physician who led the research survey. But physicians worry about what payment reforms such as those promoted by the federal health care overhaul legislation of 2010 might mean for patients and themselves.

“Physicians feel stuck in a difficult position,” Tilburt said in a news release. “Despite their sense of responsibility to address health care costs, physicians consistently express a commitment to the best interests of patients, even when it is expensive.”

In an editorial being published by the medical journal, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania called the survey results “somewhat discouraging.”

“The findings suggest that physicians do not yet have that ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mentality this historical moment demands,” Emanuel wrote.

“Indeed, the survey of 2,556 physicians suggests that in the face of this new and uncertain moment in the reform of the health care system, physicians are lapsing into the well-known, cautious instinctual approaches humans adopt whenever confronted by uncertainty: blame others and persevere with ‘business as usual,’ ” wrote Emanuel, who has been an adviser to the Obama administration.


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