Outpatient surgery can save $1,000s, Blue Cross Blue Shield on board: 5 key notes

Patients and payers can save money by shifting procedures from the inpatient setting to the outpatient setting, according to a new study from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Here are five key notes from the study:

1. Patients who underwent outpatient procedures in 2014 saved $320 on average for lumbar spine surgeries, $483 for hysterectomies and $924 on gallbladder removals.

2. The total average cost for consumers, payers and employers decreased in the outpatient setting as well. The average overall cost decrease was:

• Hysterectomy: $4,505
• Lumbar spine surgery: $8,475
• Gallbladder removal: $11,262
• Angioplasty: $17,530

3. More procedures are shifting toward the outpatient setting; hysterectomy had the most dramatic shift during the study period from 36 percent in 2010 to 64 percent in 2014. Outpatient lumbar spine surgery grew from 61 percent in 2010 to 82 percent in 2014 and angioplasty's shift increased outpatient procedures from 43 percent to 50 percent.

4. The report outlines spine surgery and angioplasty as safe in the outpatient setting and associated with similar or better outcomes in the outpatient compared with the inpatient. Outpatient hysterectomy was shown to have fewer 30-day complications, lower perioperative morbidity risk and less wound complication risk.

5. The number of laparoscopic gallbladder removals was flat at around 80 percent from 2010 to 2014.

"Performing procedures in the outpatient setting will continue to provide valuable cost savings," said Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy officer and senior vice president of strategic services for BCBSA. "These savings will be especially important for members when they need surgical care and will help them save money."

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