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The Influence of Insurance Type on Management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: An Analysis of Nationwide Practice Trends.

Sears ED, Swiatek PR, Hou H, Chung KC. The Influence of Insurance Type on Management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: An Analysis of Nationwide Practice Trends. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. 2016 Nov 1; 138(5):1041-1049.

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BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of insurance type on use of diagnostic testing, treatments, and the efficiency of care for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. METHODS: The 2009 to 2013 Truven MarketScan Databases were used to identify adult patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Insurance type was categorized as fee-for-service versus capitated managed care. Multivariable regression models were created to evaluate the relationship between insurance type and costs, number of visits, treatment, and electrodiagnostic study use, and controlling for demographic characteristics and comorbidities. RESULTS: The cohort included 233,572 patients, of which 86 percent carried fee-for-service insurance. Predicted probabilities were clinically similar between the capitated and fee-for-service insurance types for therapy (0.23 versus 0.24), steroid injection (0.07 versus 0.09), and electrodiagnostic study use (0.44 versus 0.47). The difference in predicted probabilities between the insurance groups was greatest for surgery use (0.22 versus 0.28 for managed care and fee-for-service, respectively). The mean number of visits was similar between the two groups (2.1 versus 2.0 visits). In the controlled analysis, managed care was associated with a 10 percent decrease in cost compared to patients with fee-for-service (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Managed care was associated with a lower probability of surgery than fee-for-service, but similar use of less costly services. These data may be used to predict future practice trends with increased implementation of bundled payment reimbursement. Routine collection of validated patient outcomes measures is critical to assess patient outcomes associated with anticipated reduction of surgical services. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Risk, II.

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