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Parents of Hospitalized Children Want to Understand Costs

Yet, fewer than one in 10 families say an actual cost conversation occurred

FRIDAY, Sept. 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Most parents want to discuss the costs of their child’s acute hospitalization, but few do, according to a study published online Sept. 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Hannah K. Bassett, M.D., from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues explored the preferences and experiences of parents of children hospitalized at one of six pediatric centers regarding the discussion and consideration of health care costs in the inpatient care of their children. The analysis included 526 participants (52 percent with private insurance).

The researchers found that three-quarters of families wanted to discuss their child’s medical costs, but only 7 percent reported having a cost conversation. If cost discussions were to occur, more than half of families (56 percent) would prefer to speak to a financial counselor. Nearly one in five families (19 percent) worried discussing costs would hurt the quality of their child’s care. There was higher mean agreement observed among families with a medical financial burden unrelated to their hospitalized child that their child’s physician should consider the family’s costs in medical decision-making versus families without a medical financial burden (effect size, 0.55). There were no factors consistently associated with cost transparency preferences.

“Discussions of health care costs may be an important, relatively unexplored component of family-centered care,” the authors write.

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