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Professional Fees Represent Small Part of Laminectomy Cost

MONDAY, Dec. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- For patients undergoing non-instrumented lumbar laminectomy for spinal stenosis, the proportion of total costs allocated to professional fees is smaller than those allocated to hospital costs, according to a study published in the November issue of The Spine Journal.

Camilo A. Molina, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed costs associated with lumbar laminectomies among 77 patients undergoing non-instrumented lumbar laminectomy for spinal stenosis with six surgeons during an 18-month period at a single academic medical center.

The researchers found that during the study period, patients underwent lumbar laminectomy involving three levels on average, and stayed in the hospital for an average of 3.5 days. Complications were seen in 13 percent of patients. For surgeons the average professional fee billing was $6,889 and collection was $1,848 (28 percent overall; 30 percent for private insurance; and 23 percent for Medicare/Medicaid insurance). For the inpatient hospital stay (minus professional surgeon fees), the average hospital billing was $14,766 and average collection was $13,391 (92 percent overall; 91 percent for private insurance; and 85 percent for Medicare/Medicaid insurance).

"These findings suggest that the current focus on decreasing physician reimbursement as the principal cost saving strategy will lead to minimal reimbursement for surgeons without a substantial drop in the overall cost of procedures performed," the authors conclude.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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