Healthcare consumers who are unaware of the varying costs of routine medical tests may take solace in knowing that many physicians don't either.
"Doctors have been shielded from costs for generations," says Leonard S. Feldman, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
"As these systems were developing people thought it was inappropriate to expose the physicians to while they were making decisions about care. Most physicians have no idea what the costs are for whatever they're prescribing. We have never really certainly competed with one another on a regular basis based on price."
Feldman says hospitals keep patients and doctors in the dark on the cost of medical services, which contributes to the soaring cost of healthcare in the United States. With those costs poised to consume about 20% of the national economy, Feldman doctors will have to become more cost savvy.
"At this juncture in society and the world we live in, we can't afford that luxury anymore of taking into consideration these important issues," he says.