$1,000 Prize — And The Chance To Vent About Health Costs

Costs of Care founder Neel Shah

Wanted: Hair-raising or heartbreaking tales about health care costs.

Say you’re a doctor. Your patient asks you how much the surgery you’re recommending will run him, and you have to confess that you don’t have the faintest idea. Or another patient says, “I’m still feeling a little tired. I think I”ll wait until tomorrow to go home from the hospital,” and you think but do not say, “Do you understand that this will cost you $2,500??”

Or say you’re the patient. You assume your health insurance will cover the procedure you need, and find out only weeks later that you’re facing thousands of dollars in bills. Or you go into the emergency room after a fender bender and find yourself undergoing head-to-toe body scans that will leave you deep in debt.

A Boston non-profit group, Costs of Care, has just announced a national contest aimed at gathering “the best anecdotes from patients and clinicians illustrating the importance of cost-awareness in medical decision-making.” The judges include former Gov. Michael Dukakis; Jeffrey Flier, the dean of Harvard Medical School; and surgeon/New Yorker writer Atul Gawande. The deadline is Nov. 1, and details are here.

Dr. Neel Shah, the founder of Costs of Care and a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says the contest stemmed from “my belief that one compelling story is worth 100 academic papers on a subject.” Continue reading