Reimbursement Related to a 90-Day Episode of Care for a One or Two-Level Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

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Abstract

Background:

A bundled payment represents a single payment for services during an episode of care for a surgical procedure. Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) and associated 90-day costs have been suggested as a bundle amenable to such a payment structure; however, to our knowledge, there are limited available data with regard to costs related to this procedure and subsequent care.

Methods:

The Medicare 5% National Sample Administrative Database was used to catalog clinical and financial data associated with the day of the surgical procedure and the 90-day postoperative period for patients undergoing a one to two-level ACDF procedure from 2005 to 2012. We simultaneously queried the database for total knee replacement as a means to compare the payments and to verify the reliability of our analysis.

Results:

A total of 4,506 patients underwent an ACDF procedure for cervical radiculopathy. The total 90-day reimbursement was $69,469,550 or a mean cost per patient (and standard deviation) of $15,417 ± $947 (median, $15,589). As a comparison, the mean reimbursement for patients who had undergone a total knee replacement amounted to $17,451 per patient. The physician reimbursement for ACDF represented 20.42% of the total, with the surgeon receiving 18.07% of the total reimbursement. Revision surgery, readmission, and emergency department reimbursement accounted for 0.71% of the total reimbursement. Reimbursement for rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, skilled nursing facilities, and home care, represented 3.11% of the total reimbursement. There was a significant variation in reimbursement among geographic regions in the United States (p < 0.001), with the highest in the West.

Conclusions:

To our knowledge, this study is the first report on 90-day reimbursement per patient for one to two-level ACDF procedures in a Medicare cohort. Payments varied significantly among geographic locations. Our study provides a reimbursement benchmark for one to two-level ACDF procedures. Clarifying the payments relative to costs will help providers to understand whether a bundled payment for the ACDF procedure is economically viable.

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