When the Price Isn't Right: How Inadvertent Payment Incentives Drive Medical Care

Aug. 9, 2005
Health Affairs , Web exclusive (Aug. 9, 2005)
Paul B. Ginsburg, Joy M. Grossman

Unintended overpayment of some services, in combination with other market factors, is driving increased use of expensive care, which in turn could be an important driver of health care cost trends. Reimbursement systems are highly dependent on provider charge data that rarely provide accurate and up-to-date indicators of relative costs. As a result, newer services, in which productivity is increasing over time, tend to be more lucrative. As the largest payer, and one whose reimbursement policies are followed by private insurers and Medicaid programs, Medicare can address this issue by taking steps to make its prospective payment rates reflect relative costs more accurately.

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