A new analysis by researchers at the prominent University of California-Berkeley Nicholas C. Petris Center on Health Care Markets and Consumer Welfare finds that ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) provide billions of dollars in savings to the Medicare program and its beneficiaries. Specifically, Berkeley's researchers found that ASCs saved Medicare $7.5 billion over the four-year period from 2008 to 2011. Going forward, ASCs have the potential to save the Medicare system an additional $57.6 billion over the next decade.
"With policymakers looking for ways to shore up Medicare's finances and reduce health care spending nationwide, our analysis suggests that ASCs offer a win-win for policymakers and patients," said Adjunct Professor Brent Fulton of the University of California at Berkeley. "Encouraging patients to seek the care they need in ASCs throughout the Medicare system should be an easy decision. Indeed, depending on the future policy environment, the savings generated by ASCs could exceed our $57.6 billion estimate."
Ambulatory surgery centers, or ASCs, are modern health care facilities focused on providing a range of same-day surgical care—the same procedures that were once performed exclusively in hospitals. Because ASCs provide quality care at less cost than hospital outpatient departments (HOPD), Medicare reimburses ASCs at, on average, 58 percent of the HOPD rate. This means that Medicare—and the taxpayers who fund it—realize savings every time a procedure is performed in an ASC. As the UC-Berkeley cost savings analysis shows, those savings add up. Key findings from the study include: