Same Services More Expensive in Outpatient Than Office Settings

2009 to 2017 also saw increase in proportion of services performed in outpatient settings

WEDNESDAY, April 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The same services are more expensive when performed in outpatient versus office settings, according to a blog post from the Health Care Cost Institute.

John Hargraves, M.P.P., and Julie Reiff, from the Health Care Cost Institute in Washington, D.C., examined the utilization and average price paid for a set of services commonly performed in physician office and outpatient settings from 2009 to 2017.

The authors note that there was an increase in the share of these services performed in the outpatient setting from 2009 to 2017, from 11.1 to 12.9 percent. The shift varied considerably by service, with larger increases for echocardiograms and drug administration, for example, and little change in other services. For level 3 diagnostic and screening ultrasound visits, there was an increase from 20.9 to 25.2 percent in the share performed in the outpatient setting; level 5 drug administration visits occurring in the outpatient setting increased from 23.4 to 45.9 percent.

The average price for this set of services was always higher in the outpatient versus the office setting; average prices tended to increase more in outpatient versus office settings. For a level 3 diagnostic and screening ultrasound visit, the average price increased 4 percent in office settings and 14 percent in outpatient settings. For a level 5 drug administration visit, the average price increase was 15 and 57 percent in office and outpatient settings, respectively.

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