July 25, 2014 – Useless Tests


Anchor lead:  Many routine medical tests are coming under fire because they don’t help and cost too much, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Have you had a routine EKG? How about a bone density assessment?  These and other tests are being scrutinized closely in a recent study, which found that if tests that don’t offer much in terms of managing a person’s health were eliminated, it would save Medicare over $300 per person per year.  Redonda Miller, an internal medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Miller: If the measures can be refined and found to be valid in other payer populations I could certainly imagine that these would influence coverage policies by third party payers. They may just opt to not cover.  Cost sharing with patients, if you want a test that’s outside these guidelines you pay for it or you pay 80% of it.  And of course the third option is pay for performance, that we incent physicians not to order these tests by pay for performance scorecards. And that seems to be where we land oftentimes with public policy.   :31

So don’t be surprised if you aren’t offered tests you thought were just part of the plan, or are asked to pay.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.