Patients Who Choose Primary Care Physicians Based On Low Office Visit Price Can Realize Broader Savings
Author: Ateev Mehrotra, Peter J. Huckfeldt, Amelia M. Haviland, Laura Gascue, Neeraj Sood
Price transparency initiatives encourage patients to save money by choosing physicians with a relatively low price per office visit. Given that the price of such visits represents a small fraction of total spending, the extent of the savings from choosing such physicians has not been clear. Using a national sample of commercial claims data, we compared the care received by patients of high- and low-price primary care physicians. The median price for an established patient’s office visit was $60 among low-price physicians and $86 among high-price physicians (price was calculated as reimbursement plus out-of-pocket spending). Patients of low-price physicians also received, on average, relatively low-price lab tests, imaging, and other procedures. Total spending per year among patients cared for by low-price physicians was $690 less than spending among patients cared for by high-price physicians. There were no consistent differences in patients’ use of services between high- and low-price physicians. Despite modest differences in physicians’ office visit prices, patients of low-price physicians had substantively lower overall spending, compared to patients of high-price physicians.