Financial burden patients carry poses challenge to gastroenterologists

The shift in patients' financial burdens is beginning to cast a shadow over gastroenterology.

One voice from the industry weighed in to answer: "What is the biggest challenge gastroenterologists are facing?"

Editor's note: These responses were edited lightly for clarity and brevity.

Alejandro Pruitt, MD. Gastroenterologist at GI Consultants of San Antonio: The biggest challenge we are facing relates to the increasing and progressive shift of financial burden from insurance companies to patients. All too often, we see patients who have signs and symptoms, sometimes with ominous features, that need endoscopic evaluation. Unfortunately, patients are penalized with deductibles that are obscenely high or coinsurance which they cannot afford. Many are lost to follow up when they are informed of their financial responsibility despite our efforts to try and arrange for less costly, and often less sensitive, noninvasive tests.

These problems are only expected to intensify given the economic crisis facing our country that is pushing us closer and closer to recession. As the cost of living continues to rise in this out-of-control manner, patients will invariably opt to pay for their rent or mortgage, food and gas rather than undergo an evaluation for things like rectal bleeding.

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