KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Cost-Saving Value Of Some Medical Tests Challenged

The Boston Globe: "One of President Obama's favorite arguments for his health care overhaul plan is that he would require insurance companies to pay for tests and other preventive care that can determine whether a person has a life-threatening disease," The Globe reports. But "while cholesterol tests, cancer screenings, and other preventive measures can save lives, there is strong disagreement about whether they really reduce health care spending, because the tests themselves are costly and often lead to more doctor's visits and procedures."

The Congressional Budget Office "said this month that expanding the use of preventive measures and screening tests would actually lead to 'higher, not lower, medical spending overall.'" The agency also "suggested that if the tests do save lives, that could also cost the government more in other areas, by extending lives and increasing the time elderly Americans rely on Social Security and federal Medicare insurance. ... Legislators, meanwhile, are trying to balance the costs of mandating payment for widespread screening with ethical questions, such as whether the government should be in a position of denying payments for some tests that are considered less effective" (Kranish, 8/17).


Related story from KHN: Will Emphasis On Prevention Bring Health Costs Down?

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.