Feature | December 06, 2013

Medicare Spending for Medical Imaging Sustains Dramatic Slowdown Compared With Other Services

ct mri digital radiography dr ultrasound systems medicare
December 6, 2013 — Over the past decade, medical imaging has gone from being one of the fastest growing categories of Medicare spending to one of the slowest relative to other Medicare services, according to a new study.
 
“A number of studies have demonstrated that Medicare spending growth for medical imaging has slowed, but none have compared it with spending growth for other Medicare services,” said Richard Duszak Jr., M.D. FACR, chief medical officer, Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute, and co-author of the study. “Our findings demonstrate that Medicare spending on medical imaging is not only in decline, but it is now one of the fastest declining Medicare service categories.”
 
The new study, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), sought to develop a comparative understanding of Medicare spending growth for medical imaging vis-à-vis other services. By analyzing Medicare claims data, researchers found that though medical imaging (and especially advanced medical imaging) was, at a time, one of the fastest growing categories of Medicare spending, that position has essentially reversed in the past five years. The findings indicate that while spending growth on diagnostic imaging was in the 80th percentile of all medical services in 2001, it had slowed to the point that it was only in the second growth percentile by 2011. These results hold for imaging as a whole, as well as advanced (such as computed tomography [CT] and magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) and standard (such as X-ray and ultrasound) imaging services.
 
“It is important to shed light on such relative changes in spending, because policy makers who are interested in bending the cost curve typically focus their attention on services that are growing most rapidly and not necessarily just those with the largest absolute spending,” said Danny Hughes, Ph.D., senior researcher, Neiman Health Policy Institute, and co-author of the study. “This research provides those policy makers with an important piece of the puzzle, one that will be fundamental to understanding the bigger picture of Medicare spending moving forward.”
 
Researchers suggest that the explanation for the dramatic reversal in spending growth is likely multifactorial. Because spending is affected by both the unit price and volume of service, they attribute the change to the repeated and widespread unit payment reductions to medical imaging over the past several years, as well as the declining volume.
 
“It is no secret that many policymakers consider health care spending to be on an economically unsustainable trajectory,” said Duszak. “With an aging population and Medicare spending expected to double from 2011 to 2021, it is vital that we understand what service areas are growing most quickly, so we can better pinpoint what is contributing to the overall increase in Medicare spending.”
 
The Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute (HPI) studies the value and role of radiology in evolving health care delivery and payment systems, including quality-based approaches to care and the impact of medical imaging on overall health care costs. HPI research provides a foundation for evidence-based imaging policy to improve patient care and bolster efficient, effective use of health care resources.
 
For more information: www.ajronline.com, www.acr.org

Related Content

HeartFlow, FFR-CT Analysis, next-generation platform, second FDA clearance
Technology | CT Angiography (CTA)| June 29, 2016
HeartFlow Inc. announced that it is launching its next generation of the HeartFlow FFR-CT Analysis. The result of years...
DEFUSE-2 study, MRI, brain bleeding risk, post-stroke treatment, NIH

This image combines pre- and post-treatment scans from the same patient. Analysis of the two scans revealed that the area and size of post-treatment bleeding corresponded to blood-brain barrier disruption (shown in green, yellow and red) prior to therapy. Image courtesy of Richard Leigh, NINDS.

News | Stroke| June 29, 2016
In a study of stroke patients, investigators confirmed through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans an...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Cardiovascular Ultrasound| June 28, 2016
Interview with MD Buyline clinical analysts Jon Brubaker and Sabrina Newell at the American Society of Echocardiograp
Sponsored Content | Videos | Cardiovascular Ultrasound| June 28, 2016
Interview with Rebecca Hahn, M.D., FASE, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, at the American Society of Ech
CT scans, cancer risk, radiation dose, Canadian study
News | Computed Tomography (CT)| June 27, 2016
June 27, 2016 — A new study in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences surveyed doctors, radiologists a
BHF, Reflections of Research image competition, U.K., 4-D MRI, heart blood flow

This image shows blood flow within the main pumping chambers – the ventricles – on both sides of the heart and the vessels leaving the heart. The blue flow is blood that needs oxygen and is travelling to the lungs. The red flow is blood that has been through the lungs and received oxygen. Victoria Stoll of the University of Oxford is using this type of imaging to look at the blood flow within the hearts of people with heart failure, whose hearts are not pumping effectively.

News | Cardiac Imaging| June 24, 2016
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) announced the winners of its annual ‘Reflections of Research’ image competition,...
Biotronik, CardioStim 2016 Innovation Award, MRI AutoDetect, Ilivia ICDs
News | EP Lab| June 23, 2016
Biotronik announced it was the winner of the Cardiostim Innovation Award in the category “Best Practice Improvement”...
Epsilon Imaging, EchoInsight, left ventricle, LV measurement, strain imaging, ASE 2016
News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound| June 17, 2016
Epsilon Imaging Inc. announced a research study was presented at the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) 2016...
CAD-RADS, coronary CT angiography, CCTA, reporting, SCCT, ACR, NASCI, ACC

A coronary CTA scan from a Philips CT scanner illustrating a curved multiplaner reconstruction showing a large occlusion of the artery. 

News | CT Angiography (CTA)| June 17, 2016
Three medical professional societies this week jointly released a new reporting system to standardize reporting of...
ZOOM+Imaging, on-demand service, X-ray, ultrasound, CT
News | Business| June 15, 2016
ZOOM+ announced the launch of ZOOM+Imaging, a proprietary digital platform for on-demand scheduling, paying and sharing...
Overlay Init