Human Resources News & Insights

Health test confusion: What workers need — and what they’re choosing

Here’s a healthcare problem Benefits pros will want to address:  Employees are skipping out on the critical — and potentially life-saving — medical procedures and choosing more costly ones they might not need.

One of the best examples: colonoscopies. Research has proven that individuals age 50 and over (or those with a high risk of cancer) greatly reduce the risk of getting colon cancer, or having it spread and requiring a chemotherapy, simply by getting colonoscopies done.

Cancerous and precancerous polyps found during the colonoscopy can actually be removed right on the spot — making it an extremely cost-effective procedure.

Still, just 38% of individuals who chose or were assigned to get a colonoscopy actually went through with it, according to a study by the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association.

So it’s in benefits pros’ best interests to alleviate workers’ concerns about such an invaluable procedure.

In many cases, some extra education may be all it takes to change people’s minds.

The flip side

On the other end of the spectrum, a number of costly tests and procedures often aren’t necessary.

These are the tests workers are getting done in droves.

Examples: MRIs and CAT scans for conditions like routine knee injuries or general back pain.

In fact, according to Dr. Gregory Long, chief medical officer at ThedaCare, 80% of these types of conditions will typically be resolved or go away on their own. So what should employees do?

When physicians recommend workers get MRIs or CAT scans done, workers shouldn’t be afraid to ask about less-costly alternative procedures — such as ultrasounds. It’s their health — and ultimately, their money.

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  • Joanna G.

    The truth is that if ultrasound is inconclusive, doctor will want to do CT-Scan or MRI anyway, that only adds to the cost. As to colonoscopy, in almost all cases it is diagnostic and it will be coverred however if anything is detected during colonoscopy, then it’s becomining not a diagnostic test and procedure code and diagnosis code is different increasing drastically charges to the patient that’s why patients often decline test due to what’s “hidden” in billing.