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Out-of-Pocket Spending for Thumb Carpometacarpal Arthritis: Capitation Matters.

Billig JI, Lu YT, Kelley BP, Chung KC, Sears ED. Out-of-Pocket Spending for Thumb Carpometacarpal Arthritis: Capitation Matters. Hand (New York, N.Y.). 2021 Nov 1; 16(6):818-826.

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Patients are increasingly responsible for direct medical expenditures with a growth in out-of-pocket (OOP) expenses, which can impede access to care and affect treatment. This study aims to investigate the impact of capitation on OOP expenses for surgical and presurgical treatment for thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) joint arthritis. Patients with a diagnosis of thumb CMC arthritis who underwent surgery (2009-2016) comprised our study cohort. Sociodemographic data, total cost, and OOP expenses were collected at the time of surgery and 2 years prior. Patients were stratified by insurance type: fee-for-service (FFS), managed care (MC), Medicare-MC, and Medicare-FFS. Capitated plans were included in the MC and Medicare-MC groups. A generalized linear regression was performed to investigate the association between OOP expenses and insurance type. Our cohort consisted of 7780 patients with FFS insurance, 953 with MC insurance, 2136 with Medicare-FFS, and 265 with Medicare-MC. There was no difference in total costs for FFS and MC (FFS $7281 vs. MC $7306, = .73; Medicare-FFS $6663 vs. Medicare-MC $6183, = .19). However, patients with FFS incurred significantly greater OOP costs (FFS $952 vs. MC $434, < .01; Medicare-FFS $343 vs. Medicare-MC $232, < .01). In the adjusted regression, MC, Medicare-FFS, and Medicare-MC had approximately 21% to 46% of the predicted OOP expenses of patients with FFS plans ( < .01). Despite similar total costs, OOP expenses were significantly greater for patients with FFS or Medicare-FFS insurance. With healthcare costs transitioning to patients, providers should consider cost sharing when conferring care to help alleviate the financial burden placed on patients.

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