High Medical Cost Burdens, Patient Trust, and Perceived Quality of Care

This article examines the relationship between high medical cost burden and patient trust in physicians. The authors find that patients with higher medical costs have lower levels of trust in the quality of care that they receive from their physicians.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional household survey, primarily over the telephone, with a sample of 32,210 adults who had a regular source of primary care. Respondents with higher levels of medical cost burden were more likely to not believe that their physicians would:

  • place the patient's needs above all else;
  • refer patients to appropriate specialists; and
  • perform appropriate levels of testing.

Patients with high levels of cost burden also had relatively negative assessments of the thoroughness of care received from physicians. This association was strongest with privately insured respondents.

Increased exposure to costs of medical care could lead to lower levels of patient trust in their physicians.