Wow, has it been a year already?
Last September, we wrote here about the inaugural “story contest” held by Costs of Care, a Boston non-profit. It sought hair-raising and heartbreaking tales of health care costs to help “illustrate the importance of cost-awareness in medical decision-making.” The stories came rolling in, well over 100 of them, from patients and medical staffers alike, describing horrifying bills and stymied efforts to determine prices. Here’s a recap of the results, including the two truly disturbing prize-winners.
Now the contest is back — deadline for stories is Nov. 15 — but with a few tweaks. (Details are here.) There are four $1,000 prizes instead of just two. Different, though similarly prominent, judges. And a somewhat more upbeat focus on positive stories of savings in addition to the negative focus on profligate spending. I asked Dr. Neel Shah, Costs of Care’s founder, for an update.
The goal of our first annual essay contest was to collect stories from patients and care providers across the nation that illustrate the importance of cost-awareness in medicine, and then make these stories part of the public discourse by widely sharing them.
From the tremendous response we got to these stories, we demonstrated that there is a clear need to make healthcare costs more transparent. The stories showed how transparency helps patients financially plan for their care and helps doctors keep medical bills affordable.
However we also learned that knowing what tests and treatments cost is only the first step. Continue reading