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Article
October 28, 1988

Results, Potential Effects, and Implementation Issues of the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston.

From the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston.

JAMA. 1988;260(16):2429-2438. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410160105013
Abstract

This article presents the overall results of the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS) study. We present resource-based relative values for selected services in each of the 18 specialties we studied. We found that preservice and postservice work represents close to 50% of total work for invasive services and 33% of total work for evaluation/management services. We also found that the work per unit time (a measure of intensity) for invasive services is about three times that of evaluation/management. We developed a simple model and simulated an RBRVS-based fee schedule for the Medicare program under a "budget-neutral" assumption. Results for 30 commonly performed services show that office visit fees for evaluation/management services could rise by 70%, while some surgical fees could drop by 60%. We also simulated what the Medicare outlays would have been in 1986 for categories of medical services under an RBRVS-based fee schedule. We found that total Medicare payments for evaluation/management services would have increased by about 56%. Invasive, imaging, and laboratory services would have decreased by 42%, 30%, and 5%, respectively. We also discuss implementation issues related to an RBRVS-based fee schedule, such as the determination of a monetary conversion factor, practice costs, billing codes, and the need to evaluate the potential impacts of an RBRVS-based payment system on the cost and quality of health care.

(JAMA 1988;260:2429-2438)

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