Expenses for Office-Based Physician Visits

MEPS Statistical Brief 517

Payments for care to physicians vary substantially by the specialty of the physician and by payer. Physician payment levels are influenced by factors such as complexity of services provided, length of visit, local market conditions, and payment generosity of insurance plans. Understanding variation in physician payment has important implications for access, cost, and quality of care.

Expenses for Office-Based Physician Visits by Specialty and Insurance Type, a statistical brief from the Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, provides descriptive statistics for the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population illustrating variation in both total payments and out-of-pocket payments per office-based physician visit across selected specialty types.


  • While the overall mean expense for an office-based physician visit in 2016 was $265, mean expenses per visit ranged across specialty types from $159 to $419.
  • Median expenses per visit ($116 overall) were substantially lower and varied less dramatically by physician specialty than mean expenses.
  • In 2016, 55.2 percent of all office-based physician visits had no out-of-pocket payments. However, the proportion of visits without any out-of-pocket payments varied across specialty types from 41.0 percent to 66.4 percent.
  • Among office-based physician visits for which some out-of-pocket payments were made, median out-of-pocket payments ranged across specialty types from $25 to $40.
  • For most physician specialties, median per-visit expenses were highest for persons with private insurance, lowest for persons on Medicaid, and in between for Medicare beneficiaries.

Select to access Expenses for Office-Based Physician Visits by Specialty and Insurance Type

Page last reviewed October 2018
Page originally created October 2018
Internet Citation: Expenses for Office-Based Physician Visits. Content last reviewed October 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/expenses.html