Patient–Provider Discussion About Cancer Treatment Costs and Out-of-Pocket Spending: Implications for Shared Decision Making in Cancer Care (Editor's Choice)



Patient–provider discussion about treatment costs has been recognized as a key component of shared clinical decision making in cancer care. This study examined the association of patient–provider cost discussion with out-of-pocket spending among cancer survivors.


Using data from the 2016-2017 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Experiences with Cancer Survivorship Supplement, cancer survivors in the United States who reported having a detailed discussion about treatment costs were identified. Multivariable generalized linear model with gamma distribution and log-link was fitted to analyze average total out-of-pocket spending between those who had the discussion and those who did not. We also examined whether having the cost discussion is associated with the likelihood of reporting receipt of all cancer care they believed was necessary using a multivariable logistic regression model. All analyses controlled for patient socioeconomic and health-related characteristics.


Among 1525 individuals, representing 14.6 million cancer survivors in the United States (mean age, 65.5 years; 59% women; 80.4% white), only 10.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.7%-12.1%) reported having the detailed cost discussion with their providers during their cancer care. Having a cost discussion was associated with a −33.8% reduction in (95% CI, −38.2% to −29.6%; an absolute difference of −$478) average total out-of-pocket spending. The probability of receiving all necessary patient-reported cancer care was not different between those who had the discussion and those who did not.


Detailed patient–provider cost discussions were associated with lower average total out-of-pocket spending. Patients who had detailed cost discussions with providers did not seem to sacrifice the appropriate utilization of necessary cancer treatments.


Young-Rock Hong Ramzi G. Salloum Sandhya Yadav Grace Smith Arch G. Mainous III

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