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To Test, Or Not to Test

The following is a guest post by Yolanda Taylor, Integrated Communication Director at AARP.


"Doctor, do I really need this procedure?"

It's a question that few of us ask, but more of us should.

Over the past decade, the average amount that middle-income households spent on health care increased by 51% - nearly double their income growth (30 percent) and three times the growth rate in their spending for all other products and services. The tests, procedures, and medication therapies that are commonly ordered, however, are not always medically necessary.

That's where the ABIM Foundation's "Choosing Wisely" campaign comes in.

Today, 17 leading medical specialty societies identified 90 common tests or procedures that they say often waste time, money and can be harmful. The list recommendations were developed by the individual societies after months of careful consideration and review. The campaign aims to spark conversations between patients and their physicians about what care is really necessary.

"Millions of Americans are increasingly realizing that when it comes to health care, more is not necessarily better," said Christine K. Cassel, M.D., president and CEO of ABIM Foundation. ABIM has partnered with Consumer Reports, which is working with consumer groups, such as AARP, to spread the word about testing overuse.

Debra Whitman, AARP's EVP for Policy and International, participated in a panel discussion during Choose Wisely's launch event. Whitman praised the campaign for looking at approaches that improve quality, while also reducing costs for payers and consumers alike.

Photo: Ian Cunningham / AARP

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