Non-invasive diagnostic imaging costs to Medicare Part B down significantly since 2006

September 4, 2012

According to a study in the Sept. issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology, overall non-invasive diagnostic imaging (NDI) costs to Medicare Part B dropped 21 percent from 2006 to 2010. The study reveals that medical imaging is not a driver of escalating Medicare costs.

"This study confirms that medical imaging costs are down significantly in recent years and runs counter to that imaging scans serve a primary role in rising . This study should provide lawmakers and regulators with more current information on which to base medical imaging policies and allow them to correctly focus on other areas of medicine that may be seeing cost increases," said David C. Levin, MD, lead author of the study.

Medicare Part B databases for 2000 to 2010 were used for the study. All NDI codes were selected. Medicare physician specialty codes were used to identify radiologists, cardiologists, all other non-radiologist physicians as a group, and independent facilities. Part B NDI payment trends were tracked. Overall, Part B spending for NDI rose from $5.921 billion in 2000 to $11.910 billion in 2006, but declined to $9.457 billion in 2010. Similar trends occurred across the medical specialty settings and in independent diagnostic testing facilities.

" costs peaked in 2006, after doctors discovered that they could diagnose, treat or rule out serious conditions more safely and efficiently using scans rather than exploratory surgeries or admitting patients who did not need to be hospitalized. But in the subsequent years, reimbursement cuts have made a big dent in imaging costs. Also, utilization tightened as providers became more educated about when and which scans to order and radiation education efforts proliferated. This study shows that imaging has matured as it serves an increasingly vital role in modern health care," said Levin.

These findings are line with a recent Health Care Cost Institute report that imaging is the slowest growing of all physician services among privately insured individuals and that Medicare imaging use (overall) is down in recent years.

Explore further: Self-referral: A significant factor in imaging growth

Related Stories

Self-referral: A significant factor in imaging growth

July 1, 2011
A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Radiology suggests that self-referral in medical imaging may be a significant contributing factor in diagnostic imaging growth.

ACR: Medical imaging study in health affairs incomplete and potentially misleading

July 25, 2012
In response to a study published in the August issue of Health Affairs regarding declining medical imaging use in recent years, the American College of Radiology (ACR) released a statement explaining that physician education ...

Diagnostic imaging increases among stage IV cancer patients on Medicare

July 30, 2012
The use of diagnostic imaging in Medicare patients with stage IV cancer has increased faster than among those with early-stage (stages I and II) disease, according to a study published July 30 in the Journal of the National ...

Recommended for you

Researchers see popular herbicide affecting health across generations

September 20, 2017
First, the good news. Washington State University researchers have found that a rat exposed to a popular herbicide while in the womb developed no diseases and showed no apparent health effects aside from lower weight.

Higher levels of fluoride in pregnant woman linked to lower intelligence in their children

September 20, 2017
Fluoride in the urine of pregnant women shows a correlation with lower measures of intelligence in their children, according to University of Toronto researchers who conducted the first study of its kind and size to examine ...

India has avoided 1 million child deaths since 2005, new study concludes

September 19, 2017
India has avoided about 1 million deaths of children under age five since 2005, driven by significant reductions in mortality from pneumonia, diarrhea, tetanus and measles, according to new research published today.

Gulf spill oil dispersants associated with health symptoms in cleanup workers

September 19, 2017
Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms including cough and wheeze, and skin and eye irritation, according to scientists ...

Study suggests link between youth football and later-life emotional, behavioral impairment

September 19, 2017
A new study has found an association between participation in youth tackle football before age 12 and impaired mood and behavior later in life. The study appears in Nature's Translational Psychiatry.

Self-confidence affected by teammates, study finds

September 19, 2017
A person's confidence in their own ability varies significantly depending on who is in their team, according to new research from the University of Stirling.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.