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Research Studies is a monthly compilation of research articles funded by AHRQ or authored by AHRQ researchers and recently published in journals or newsletters.
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Whaley CM, Zhao X, Richards M
Higher Medicare spending on imaging and lab services after primary care physician group vertical integration.
This study looked at the impact of direct ownership of physician practices by hospitals and health systems (vertical integration) on Medicare spending for imaging and lab services. A 100% sample of 2013-16 Medicare fee-for-service claims data was examined to determine if vertical integration was associated with changes in site of care and Medicare reimbursement rates for ten common diagnostic imaging and laboratory services. After vertical integration, the monthly number of diagnostic imaging tests per 1,000 attributed beneficiaries increased in a hospital setting by 26.3 per 1000, and the number performed in a nonhospital setting decreased by 24.8 per 1,000. Hospital-based laboratory tests increased by 44.5 per 1,000 and non-hospital-based laboratory tests decreased by 36.0 per 1,000. Average Medicare reimbursement rose by $6.38 for imaging tests and $0.57 for laboratory tests. This translates to $40.2 million increase for imaging and $32.9 million increase for laboratory tests in Medicare spending for the study period.
Citation: Whaley CM, Zhao X, Richards M . Higher Medicare spending on imaging and lab services after primary care physician group vertical integration. Health Aff 2021 May;40(5):702-09. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.01006..
Keywords: Medicare, Healthcare Costs, Imaging, Primary Care