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Why does AARP want you to say 'No' to health care?

2014-05-28T00:15:00Z 2014-06-30T17:13:06Z Why does AARP want you to say 'No' to health care?Amy Osmond Cook Health & Wellness Daily Herald
May 28, 2014 12:15 am  • 

Did you know that 30 percent of healthcare in the U.S. is unnecessary? According to the Institute of Medicine, our healthcare system generates approximately $2.1 trillion, and $700 billion of that is spent on waste every year.

In response to some doctors questioning the necessity and accruing costs of many of their prescribed procedures, the American Board of Internal Medicine developed the "Choosing Wisely" campaign to educate the community on tests and procedures that are often overused and sometimes provide little value to patients. This campaign is being championed by AARP Utah, Central Utah Clinic, and HealthInsight.

But why would patients ever say "no" to additional health care?

The answer is simple: To avoid unnecessary risks that medical procedures inevitably bring with them.

“This campaign brings together physician organizations and patient organizations ... to talk about how we can work together to reduce waste in healthcare and make people safer with evidence-based best practices,” says Dr. Sarah Woolsey, medical director of HealthInsight.

Robin Betts, assistant vice president of quality and patient safety with Intermountain Healthcare, agrees: "We want patients and physicians to open the communication channels about care because some common tests, treatments and procedures may not make sense. We encourage patients to ask questions about the benefits, risks and alternatives to all procedures to ensure they receive the right treatment at the right time.”

Alan Ormsby, state director of AARP Utah, also advocates the initiative. “Healthcare really matters,” said Ormsby. “And the best healthcare takes place when open communication exists between doctor and patient.” He offers five questions that patients should ask their physician during an examination.

1. Is this test or procedure really necessary?

2. What are the risks?

3. Are there other options that are more simple or safer?

4. What happens if I decide to do nothing?

5. How much does it cost?

Patients can protect themselves from unnecessary risk by asking these simple questions.

For many Americans, a trip to the doctor’s office is an inevitable reality. Whether it’s a routine visit or an emergency situation, make sure to choose wisely in matters of healthcare.

Greg and Amy's Recommendation: When your doctor recommends that you have tests or procedures performed, ask him or her to explain to you in lay terms why you need them performed, and what the implications, risks, benefits and alternatives are.

If she or he cannot give you a clear logical rationale for the test/procedure, then you may want to seek a second opinion before having it performed. Alternative approaches may exist that could be equally effective and less expensive to both you and your insurance company.

Health & Wellness is written by Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., the Director of Provider Relations at North American Health Care and faculty associate at Arizona State University. For more information, please visit,, and

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