The Cost of Outpatient Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repairs: Hospital Reimbursement Is on the Rise While Surgeon Payments Remain Unchanged


      To better understand the relative increases in rotator cuff charges and to analyze national and regional trends between hospital, anesthesiologist, and surgeon charges and reimbursements for contemporary rotator cuff repairs (RCRs) performed in the United States.


      A representative Medicare sample was used to capture hospital, surgeon, and anesthesiologist charges and payments for outpatient RCR from 2005 to 2014. The charges and reimbursements were calculated using Current Procedural Terminology codes. Two ratios were calculated to compare surgeon and hospital charges and reimbursements. The charge multiplier (CM) is the ratio of hospital to surgeon charges, and the payment multiplier (PM) is the ratio of hospital to surgeon reimbursements. Trends were evaluated using national and regional charges, reimbursements, Charlson Comorbidity Index, CM, and PM.


      In total, 12,617 patients were included in this study. Between 2005 and 2014, hospital charges for RCR significantly increased from $4877 to $11,488 (136% increase; P < .0001), anesthesiologist charges increased from $1319 to $2169 (64% increase; P < .0001), and surgeon charges increased from $7528 to $9979 (33% increase; P < .0001). Reimbursements during the same period significantly increased from $3007 to $6696 (123% increase; P < .0001) for hospitals, from $203 to $239 (17% increase; P = .005) for anesthesiologists. Reimbursements for surgeons remained relatively unchanged (from $1821 to $1885, 3% increase; P = .116). Increases in national CM (P = .003) and PM (P < .0001) were both statistically significant. Charlson Comorbidity Index did not change significantly over the period (P = .1178).


      Although outpatient RCR charges increased significantly for hospitals, surgeons, and anesthesiologists, hospital reimbursements increased substantially relative to surgeon and anesthesiologist reimbursements despite stable patient complexity. In 2005, hospitals were reimbursed 65% more than surgeons. By 2014, hospitals were reimbursed 255% more than surgeons, indicating that hospitals disproportionally drove increases in charges and reimbursements over this period.

      Level of Evidence

      Level IV, economic analysis
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