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Our friends over at are launching their second annual healthcare essay contest today.

The contest will solicit stories from care providers and patients across the nation that illustrate opportunities to curb unnecessary and even harmful health care spending, with the goal of expanding the national discourse on the role of doctors, nurses and other care providers in controlling healthcare costs.


Costs of Care will award $4,000 in prizes: Two $1,000 prizes will be reserved for patients, and two $1,000 prizes  for care providers. Preference will be given to stories that best demonstrate the importance of cost-awareness in medicine. Examples may include a time a patient tried to find out what a test or treatment would cost but was unable to do so, a time that caring for a patient generated an unexpectedly a high medical bill, or a time a patient and  provider figured out a way to save money while still delivering high-value care.

Last year’s essay contest drew more than 100 submissions from across the nation. According to contest judge Atul Gawande, the submissions were “powerful just for the sheer volume of unrecognized misery alone.” The finalists included stories of hardworking, responsible Americans falling through the cracks, getting a $11,000 bill for indigestion, a $10,000 bill for pre-approved surgery, a $1,000 bill for birth control.

This year’s judges are: Peter Orzsag, former director of the White House Office of Management and

Budget; Dr. C. Everett Koop, former United States surgeon general; Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan; Dr. Susan Love, women’s health and cancer research advocate; and Dr. Alan Garber, health economist and Harvard University provost.

Entries  are due Nov. 15; finalists will be announced Dec. 15, and prizewinners will be announced Jan. 15. All qualifying entries will be published at during  2012, and will be made available to the media.

The contest is sponsored in part by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan.

Costs of Care is a nonprofit organization that gives patients and healthcare workers the information they need to deflate medical bills, while expanding the national discourse on the role of care providers in responsible resource stewardship.  Dr. Neel Shah, a resident physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, started Costs of Care as a medical student when he realized that even the best doctors sometimes overlook the impact of their decisions on the medical bill.

Full contest details are available at Contest-related inquiries:

May the best essay win!

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...