How to avoid unnecessary tests and costs

Take all the relevant test results, especially X-Rays and scans, with you when you first see a new specialist about a problem.

 Your Specialist will often suggest more tests, blood tests are usually not particularly expensive or difficult but someX-Rays or scans can be. These extra tests may be to allow the specialist to better understand the severity of the problem you have or to follow your progress.

Be aware of tests being repeated, sometimes this is just to confirm that important data is correct, or has not changed since the earlier test. Sometimes repeating a test is justified because the earlier test was not quite clear or in line with a particular treatment protocol. This requires a careful discussion with the Specialist involved.

If a test is being repeated because an earlier result or set of images is not available , you need to insist that all reasonable steps have been  taken to retrieve them. If you have paid (or Medicare has paid on your behalf) for tests, they are your property, and no doctor or hospital should refuse you access to them. Scans and x-ray images are usually stored digitally, but they are still your property and you can require that the report and images be made available to you or your doctor, either as printouts or on a disc.

Some busy specialists to take the path of least resistance and order further tests, rather than making a series of calls to find your old results.

The expensive tests are those that require a hospital admission (eg biopsies or angiograms) and newer types of scans.

If a hospital admission is required you need to understand how much will be covered by PHI, if there is an anaesthetic involved, and whether there are likely to be other OOP costs, such as Pathology or Radiology.

 Scans and X-Rays, particularly newer types such as MRI AND PET often have large out-of-pocket costs. Ask if they will be fully covered by Medicare.  If not, ask if it is possible to get them done in a public hospital, where they should be free.

If you are having follow up as part of a protocol, eg in a drug trial, you should not usually expect to pay for scans or other tests.