Study: Use of ambulatory surgery centers saves $38B a year

Man and woman performing surgery

The use of ambulatory surgery centers rather than outpatient hospital departments saves $38 billion per year in costs for the commercially insured, according to a study by the data company Healthcare Bluebook.

The study, produced in partnership with HealthSmart and the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA), also found that for all payers, ambulatory surgery centers produce lower costs of care than hospital outpatient departments.

And, if more surgeries typically conducted in inpatient facilities--like total hip and knee replacements--are performed in ASCs, an additional $3.2 billion could be saved in care costs, the study says.

On the consumer side, people receiving outpatient surgery at ASCs overall save $5 billion every year in out-of-pocket costs, according to the study. That number could be $41 billion for the commercially insured if all qualifying procedures were performed in ASCs instead of hospitals. Only 48 percent of outpatient surgeries are performed in ASCs.

"This study is solid evidence that consumers, policymakers, insurers and employers need to take fuller advantage of the exceptional healthcare value offered by ASCs," ASCA CEO William Prentice said in a study announcement emailed to FierceHealthPayer.

However, some have questioned the safety of ASCs in the past, and the Healthcare Bluebook study does point out that "high-risk" patients aren't elligible for surgeries at such facilities.

To learn more:
- download the study