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

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

The environmental injustice of beauty

August 16, 2017
Women of color have higher levels of beauty-product-related chemicals in their bodies compared to white women, according to a commentary published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors say ...

Heavily used pesticide linked to breathing problems in farmworkers' children

August 15, 2017
Elemental sulfur, the most heavily used pesticide in California, may harm the respiratory health of children living near farms that use the pesticide, according to new research led by UC Berkeley.

Taking a stand on staying mobile after 80

August 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—If you want to stay as fit as possible well into your 80s, the answer may be as simple as standing on your own two feet.

Binge-watching 'The Walking Dead?' You might feel like a zombie yourself

August 14, 2017
Binge-watching is a great way for young adults to catch up on multiple episodes of their favorite television series like "The Walking Dead" or "Game of Thrones," but it comes at a price.

Bugs on the menu at Swiss supermarket

August 14, 2017
Switzerland's first insect-based food aimed at humans will go on sale next week following a revision of the country's food safety laws, a supermarket chain said Monday.

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.