Making cuts to Medicare: the views of patients, physicians, and the public.


PURPOSE Cancer-related expenditures are increasing health care costs. Determining how patients with cancer, oncologists, and the general public view Medicare spending and whether they would support cost-containment measures is important to identifying acceptable approaches to reducing health care expenditures. METHODS Patients with cancer treated at an academic medical center, a random national sample of oncologists, and the general public were surveyed between July 2012 and March 2013 about causes of high health care costs and proposed cost-control measures. RESULTS Three hundred twenty-six patients (response rate, 72%), 250 oncologists (response rate, 55%), and 891 members of the general public (response rate, 50%) completed surveys. The majority thought Medicare spending was a moderate or big problem (75.8% of patients; 97.2% of oncologists; 75.3% of the general public) and thought Medicare could spend less without causing harm (65.6% of patients; 74.0% of oncologists; 69.7% of the general public). There was broad consensus that drug and insurance companies' profits added to costs, although physicians, hospitals, and patients were also perceived as sharing responsibility. More than 75% of respondents supported enabling Medicare to refuse reimbursement for more expensive treatment if less costly, equally effective treatment was available. Respondents generally favored means testing Medicare cost sharing but, except for oncologists, resisted the idea of an independent oversight panel. All groups opposed annual ceilings on Medicare spending per patient. CONCLUSION The majority of respondents view Medicare costs as a substantial problem and that all players in the system, including providers, contribute to high costs. Most thought Medicare could spend less without causing harm. Overall, respondents strongly favored not paying for more expensive treatments when cheaper ones are equally effective.

DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2014.56.3262

Cite this paper

@article{Gogineni2015MakingCT, title={Making cuts to Medicare: the views of patients, physicians, and the public.}, author={Keerthi Gogineni and Katherine L Shuman and Derek Chinn and Anita L. Weber and Carol Cosenza and Mary Ellen Colten and Ezekiel J . Emanuel}, journal={Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology}, year={2015}, volume={33 8}, pages={846-53} }