Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Patients May Be Concerned By Doctor Payment Reductions

There's a lot of concern about healthcare costs, and we expect this will be a dominant topic as Medicare 2% cuts kick in as a result of the federal sequester.  The cuts impact the doctor and not the patient directly.  But how do patients feel, seeing as they are not receiving the money or footing the bulk of the bill? 

 There's at least one study that shows that patients  think doctors are paid too little for operations.  They think they should pay more, but more to the point: they worry about low Medicare rates threatening their access to needed care. Last summer, a study published in the Journal of Arthoplasty, researchers asked orthopedic patients to estimate what they thought surgeons should be paid for total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA), as well as what they thought Medicare actually reimbursed doctors for the procedures.
They were way off.

According to the study, patients thought that surgeons should receive $18,501 for total hip replacements and $16,822 for total knee replacements but estimated that were paid $11,151 and $8,902, respectively.  Patient estimates were six times lower.   

Patients who had higher education levels, had received one of the procedures, or belonged to an HMO or PPO tended to perceive the value of both THA and TKA as being higher, but the researchers were surprised by how significantly inaccurate the estimates were.
The study was so interesting it was picked up by the "Freakonomics" blog.   According to study coauthor Jared Foran, "In short, patients--the most important part of all of healthcare policy decisions--have absolutely no clue how much doctors get paid. They think we get paid (or, at least, deserve to) about 10 times more than we actually do!"