Distribution and Determinants of 90-Day Payments for Multilevel Posterior Lumbar Fusion: A Medicare Analysis

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Abstract

Study Design:

A retrospective, economic analysis.

Objective:

The objective of this article is to analyze the distribution of 90-day payments, sources of variation, and reimbursement for complications and readmissions for primary ≥3-level posterior lumbar fusion (PLF) from Medicare data. A secondary objective was to identify risk factors for complications.

Summary of Background Data:

Bundled payments represent a single payment system to cover all costs associated with a single episode of care, typically over 90 days. The dollar amount spent on different health service providers and the variation in payments for ≥3-level PLF have not been analyzed from a bundled perspective.

Materials and Methods:

Administrative claims data were used to study 90-day Medicare (2005–2012) reimbursements for primary ≥3-level PLF for deformity and degenerative conditions of the lumbar spine. Distribution of payments, sources of variation, and reimbursements for managing complications were studied using linear regression models. Risk factors for complications were studied by stepwise multiple-variable logistic regression analysis.

Results:

Hospital payments comprised 73.8% share of total 90-day payment. Adjusted analysis identified several factors for variation in index hospital payments. The average 90-day Medicare payment for all multilevel PLFs without complications was $35,878 per patient. The additional average cost of treating complications with/without revision surgery within 90 days period ranged from $17,284 to $68,963. A 90-day bundle for ≥3-level PLF with readmission ranges from $88,648 (3 levels) to $117,215 (8+ levels). Rates and risk factors for complications were also identified.

Conclusions:

The average 90-day payment per patient from Medicare was $35,878 with several factors such as levels of surgery, comorbidities, and development of complications influencing the cost. The study also identifies the risks and costs associated with complications and readmissions and emphasize the significant effect these would have on bundled payments (additional burden of up to 192% the cost of an average uncomplicated procedure over 90 days).

Level of Evidence:

Level 3.

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