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Who is responsible for health care costs?

By Tatevik Aprikyan
Published On: Jul 26 2013 11:50:23 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 26 2013 12:01:35 PM CDT

Who is responsible for your health care costs?

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Most doctors are concerned about the rising cost of health care, but according to a recent survey by the Journal of the American Medical Association, many physicians don't think they can play a major role in lowering patient health care costs.

Trial lawyers were ranked No.1 as having the most responsibility for lowering health care costs, followed by health insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, patients and lastly, doctors.

Even though Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and Mountain View Hospital run very different operations, doctors and administrators and both hospitals agreed lowering health care costs is a shared operation.

Physicians on the front lines are supposed to heal patients, but sometimes they cause a lot of pain to your wallet.

Most doctors admit not knowing what many of the tests are costing patients.

"I don't know what anything costs. It's very weird," said Greg West, orthopedic surgeon at Mountain View Hospital.

West admitted not knowing the cost of every test he orders, but said he's very aware of the common ones.

"If I order $1,000 test, an MRI, for example I know that's coming out of my patient's pocket. I try to be very cautious about that," said West.

Mountain View Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the country under physician ownership.

"We're sitting on the same side of the table as physicians are," said Josh Tolman, chief administrative officer.

Tolman said he has daily conversations with doctors on how to better work together.

"They're the ones very integral in driving down the costs in health care and conversely they're the ones that can drive the cost. They're the fulcrum point," said Tolman.

"I'm involved directly with the hospital to try and negotiate the lowest possible rates," said West.

At EIRMC, which is not a physician-owned hospital, collaborative conversations between administrators and physicians take place frequently.

"We are really focusing on patient satisfaction equally so as we are outcome," said gastroenterologist Dr. Todd Williams.

"Who's the one person responsible for the rise in health care costs. it's all of us, there's no one person to blame, there's no one party to blame. it's a system that we all own," said chief administrative officer Doug Crabtree.

Doctors and administrators at both hospitals say health care is a very complex topic and there are a lot of players in lowering the costs.

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