J Med Educ Curric Dev. 2021 Feb 19;8:2382120521996368. doi: 10.1177/2382120521996368. eCollection 2021 Jan-Dec.
BACKGROUND: Out-of-pocket costs are a serious barrier to care and drive suboptimal medical therapy. Understanding of these costs can lead to care oriented around the limits they generate. Despite this, there is minimal attention paid to these costs in post-graduate education.
OBJECTIVE: To define a potential knowledge gap regarding costs experienced by patients by surveying Internal Medicine residents at our large academic institution.
METHODS: We surveyed Internal Medicine residents in spring 2019 about knowledge and practices surrounding patient out-of-pocket costs. Participants answered questions considering their most recent inpatient panel and their clinic patient panel. Familiarity was ranked on a 5-point Likert scale, and for the purposes of presentation, was divided into "Poor" and "Moderate or Better." Non-parametric analysis was used to test differences between outpatients and inpatients and by year of training.
RESULTS: Of 159 residents, 109 (67%) responded. Familiarity with patient insurance status was moderate or better in 85%. Reported understanding of costs associated with medications, testing, and clinic visits was less common. Respondents had higher familiarity with out-of-pocket costs for clinic patients compared with inpatients. Knowledge of cost of care was not an often-considered factor in decision making. There was no significant difference in response by year of training.
CONCLUSION: Patient out-of-pocket costs are an important dimension of patient care which Internal Medicine Trainees at our institution do not confidently understand or utilize. Improvements in education around this topic may enable more patient-centered care.