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Primary-care physicians had biggest payment increases

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A new study in the July issue of HealthAffairs and further publicized by Medscape says that primary-care physicians (PCPs) had the biggest increase in payments made by insurers  to providers in a comparison of several major specialties.

“PCPs came out on top in increased payments for both new patients (3.8 percent) and established patients (3.4 percent),” Medscape noted.

Obstetricians-gynecologists were next highest in increased payments for established patients, with 2.9 percent. However, the payments for new obstetrics-gynecology patients fell 0.1 percent.

Payments to orthopedics dropped 2.8 percent for established patients and 3.7 percent for new ones while surgeons’ payments fell 1.3 percent for established patients and 0.8 percent for new ones.

Looking at physicians as a whole,  there was  a 2 percent rise, on average, for established patients and 1.4 percent increase for new patients.

In analyzing the findings, the authors of the HealthAffairs piece said: “First, the Affordable Care Act requires that patients not be required to pay out of pocket for selected preventive care services, which may fall disproportionately into primary care. Second, the relative increase in primary care payments may reflect an insurer strategy to encourage the use of primary and preventive care while reducing the use of specialty care.”



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