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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Ambulatory Surgery Centers May Affect Hospital Pricing

Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) stir competitive pressure on hospital outpatient departments that may help to push hospital prices down, a new study conducted by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher says.

In a paper in the journal Medical Care Research and Review, Dr. Kathleen Carey, professor of health law, policy & management at BUSPH, studied the impact of ASC market presence on actual prices paid to hospital outpatient departments during 2007–2010 for four common surgical procedures that were performed in both provider settings. For those procedures, hospitals received payments from commercial insurers that were in the range of 3.25 to 5.15 percent lower for each additional ASC per 100,000 people in a market. That suggests, Dr. Carey said, that hospitals may have less price-negotiating leverage with insurers in markets with high ASC market penetration, which could result in lower prices.

“Underlying the rapid expansion of ASCs is the question of their impact on the market for outpatient surgery,” Dr. Carey said. “While research on this topic is limited, there is recent evidence suggesting that ASCs actively compete with hospital outpatient departments…. [But] very little is known about how ASCs affect prices for outpatient services.”

To read more about the study, go to: