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Regional Variations of Medicare Physician Payments for Hand Surgery Procedures in the United States
Veltre DR, Yakavonis M, Curry EJ, Cusano A, Parisien R, Duncan SF, Eichinger JK, Stein A, Li X. Regional variations of Medicare physician payments for hand surgery procedures in the United States. Hand. 2017 Nov 1:1-10.
Background: Medicare reimbursement is known to exhibit geographic variation for inpatient orthopedic procedures. This study determined whether US geographic variations also exist for commonly performed hand surgeries. Methods: Using the Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data (2012-2013) from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, we analyzed regional physician charges/payments for common outpatient hand surgeries. Results: The most commonly performed procedures in the United States were open carpal tunnel release (n = 21 944), trigger finger release (n = 15 345), endoscopic carpal tunnel release (n = 7106), and basal joint arthroplasty/ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition (n = 2408). A range of average Medicare physician reimbursements existed based on geographic region for basal joint arthroplasty ($669-$571), endoscopic carpal tunnel release ($400-$317), open carpal tunnel release ($325-$261), and trigger finger release ($215-$167). The latter three exhibited statistically significant variation across geographic regions with regard to both charges and physician reimbursement. However, the overall percentage physician reimbursement (70%-79%) to charges was similar across all geographic regions. Conclusions: In conclusion, further research is warranted to determine why regional or geographic variations in physician payments exist in the United States for commonly performed hand surgeries.