Study reveals cancer care more expensive in hospital outpatient setting than community practice setting

Patients pay more for cancer care delivered in a hospital outpatient setting than for the same care delivered in an independent, community oncology practice, according to a study released this week by the Community Oncology Alliance.

For the study, Lucio Gordan, MD, medical director at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, and Xcenda, a global health economics consulting firm, examined the IMS LifeLink database which includes claims for more than 80 million patients from 70 health plans. Claims examined in the study involved patients receiving chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or surgery and were diagnosed with breast, lung or colorectal cancer between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2015.

The study found the mean total monthly care cost for a patient receiving chemotherapy at a hospital-owned practice was nearly 60 percent, or approximately $8,000, more expensive than for those patients treated in the community practices ($20,060 vs. $12,548). This was true across all cancers.

The increased expense was primarily attributed to chemotherapy cost and the cost of physician visits. The former was 71 percent, or $3,510, more expensive per month at a hospital-owned practices ($8,443 vs. $4,933), while the latter were 333 percent, or $2,551, more expensive at hospital-owned practices than in the community practices ($3,316 vs. $765), according to a news release.

The study also found the rates of emergency department visits and hospital admissions were lower in the community practice setting compared to the hospital outpatient setting among cancer patients after chemotherapy. The release states ED visits were nearly 40 percent lower in the community practice setting within 72 hours of chemotherapy and 24 percent lower within 10 days of chemotherapy.

Read the full study here.


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