Study: Physicians With Less Experience Provide More Expensive Care
Less-experienced physicians on average provided care that was higher in cost compared with their more experienced colleagues, according to a study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
For the study, researchers at RAND Corporation examined insurance claims to compare the health costs incurred by more than 12,000 doctors in Massachusetts (Tran, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/5).
The study, which is the first to analyze links between physician characteristics and medical costs, found that physicians with up to 10 years of experience on average spend 13.2% more on patient care than those with more than 40 years of experience.
Further, the study showed that the cost of patient care decreased with each decade of experience (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 11/5). For example, doctors with 10 to 19 years of experience on average had 10% higher costs, doctors with 20 to 29 years of experience had 6.5% higher costs and doctors with 30 to 39 years of experience had 2.5% higher costs than those with more than 40 years of experience (Barr, Modern Physician, 11/5).
The researchers said there are several possible explanations for why less-experienced physicians spend more on patient care, including the fact that newly trained doctors might be more familiar with costly treatments and might treat a higher volume of sicker and more complex patients than their veteran colleagues.
New Physicians Could Face Disadvantage
Lead study author Ateev Mehrotra said the findings show that new physicians could face a disadvantage as Medicare prepares to switch from the traditional fee-for-service plan to a pay-per-performance model in 2017
Â According to Mehrotra, the new value-based payment program could result in less-experienced physicians being paid lower reimbursement rates. He added that those doctors also could be excluded from private insurance networks that take physician spending into account ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.