What are 15-year trends in Medicare reimbursement for common dermatologic procedures?
In this cross-sectional study of 2007 to 2021 Medicare fee schedules for 46 common dermatological procedures, the mean inflation-adjusted reimbursement for dermatologic procedures decreased by 4.8%. Changes in reimbursement during this time varied significantly by procedure category.
Changes in Medicare reimbursement are important to monitor and can have several possible downstream effects, including decreased patient access.
Medicare enrollment, dermatologist utilization of Medicare, and dermatologic procedural volume have all increased over time. Despite this, there are limited studies evaluating changes in Medicare reimbursement within dermatology.
To identify trends in Medicare reimbursement for 46 common dermatologic procedures from 2007 to 2021.
Design, Setting, and Participants
In this cross-sectional study, reimbursement data were obtained from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Physician Fee Schedule for commonly used dermatologic Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes from 2007 to 2021. The CPT codes in several major dermatologic categories were analyzed, including skin biopsy, shave removal, benign/premalignant/malignant destruction, benign/malignant excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, simple/intermediate/complex repair, flap, graft, and laser/phototherapy. All procedure prices were adjusted for inflation to January 2021 dollar value.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The primary outcomes were percentage changes and cumulative annual growth rates of pricing for each dermatologic procedure.
From 2007 to 2021, there was a mean decrease in dermatologic procedure reimbursement of −4.8% after adjusting for inflation. Mean inflation-adjusted changes in reimbursements during this time period significantly varied by procedure type, including skin biopsy (+30.3%), shave removal (+24.5%), benign/premalignant/malignant destruction (−7.5%), Mohs micrographic surgery (−14.4%), benign/malignant excision (−3.9%), simple/intermediate/complex repair (−9.9%), flap repair (−14.1%), graft repair (−12.0%), and laser/phototherapy (−6.6%; P < .001). Changes in reimbursement did not vary by anatomical risk categories.
Conclusions and Relevance
The findings of this cross-sectional analysis suggest that changes in Medicare reimbursement can have several downstream effects, including concomitant private insurance changes and decreased patient access. Future adjustments in reimbursement should balance high-value care with sustainable pricing to optimize patient access.
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Mazmudar RS, Sheth A, Tripathi R, Bordeaux JS, Scott JF. Inflation-Adjusted Trends in Medicare Reimbursement for Common Dermatologic Procedures, 2007-2021. JAMA Dermatol. Published online September 15, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2021.3453
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