Study: Medicare Patients' Imaging Use Decreased 17.2%

From 2003 to 2011, the percentage of Medicare patients' annual medical visits that resulted in imaging decreased 17.2 percent, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers examined medical imaging use and cost from 2003 to 2011 using Medicare Part B claims data and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. In 2003, annual health spending and Medicare payments for imaging was $294 per enrollee. This cost rose to $418 in 2006 and decreased to $390 in 2011.

Despite the overall increase in cost from 2003 to 2011, imaging use, determined by Medicare patients' visits resulting in imaging, decreased from 12.8 percent to 10.6 percent — a decrease of 17.2 percent.

The authors concluded that policymakers focusing on medical imaging should consider use in addition to cost to ensure patient access.

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