Physician payments 'rose modestly' for primary care

Payments to physicians, both from insurance companies and patients, increased moderately from 2013 to 2014, according to research published in Health Affairs.

The study, completed by the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation (RJWF) using data from about 15,000 physicians, found physician reimbursement from commercial insurance carriers increased, on average, 2 percent between 2013 and 2014 for established patients and 1.4 percent for new patients. Meanwhile, the total amount of money that a patient spent per visit rose 3.5 percent.

And while patients' out-of-pocket costs are up, they have not risen as dramatically as some critics of the Affordable Care Act predicted, noted the Hill. Nonetheless, deductibles rose for every type of physician visit by an average of about $8. The average deductible for a primary care visit increased from $14 to $20, for example, while increasing from about $27 to $35 for orthopedics.

The study also found that primary physicians saw slightly higher rates of reimbursement compared to doctors overall, a trend experts attribute to health reform's focus on reducing unnecessary specialty care.

"The moderate increase we observed in physician payments is consistent with low overall price increases for healthcare services that have been reported elsewhere," said Kathy Hempstead, who directs coverage issues at the RJWF, in an announcement obtained by the Worcester Business Journal. "The relative shift toward more generous reimbursements for primary care providers may reflect new carrier strategies such as patient-centered medical homes, or perhaps the new cost-sharing structure for preventive care."

To learn more:
- see the abstract
- read the post
- see the announcement