Study shows consumers, payers saved money on 4 procedures in outpatient setting

Consumers and payers save when medical procedures shift from an inpatient to an outpatient setting, according to a new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

The study, "How Consumers Are Saving with the Shift to Outpatient Care," examines four procedures — hysterectomy, lumbar/spine surgery, angioplasty and gallbladder removal — from 2010 to 2014. The study analyzed the claims data of approximately 43 million BCBS commercially insured members (excludes Medicare and Medicaid) under the age of 65 during that time period.

Here are three findings from the study.

1. Patients who used outpatient procedures saved money in 2014:

  • $320 on average for lumbar/spine surgeries
  • $483 for hysterectomies
  • $924 for gallbladder removals
  • $1,062 for angioplasties

2. Total average costs for consumers, payers and employers in 2014 also decreased when shifting to the outpatient setting:

  • $4,505 on average per hysterectomy
  • $8,475 per lumbar/spine surgery
  • $11,262 per gallbladder removal
  • $17,530 per angioplasty

3. Hysterectomy underwent the most dramatic shift from inpatient to outpatient settings during 2010-2014, with the proportion of outpatient procedures increasing from 36 to 64 percent. At the same time, the proportion of outpatient lumbar/spine surgery grew from 61 to 82 percent. Angioplasty's outpatient share increased from 43 to 50 percent.  Laparoscopic gallbladder removal remained essentially flat at 80 percent, having already shifted to mostly outpatient by 2010.


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