$2.6B lost: The 7 most pandemic-sensitive surgical specialties

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The COVID-19 pandemic had a number of wide-ranging effects on the healthcare industry. Medicare physician fee spending in ASCs saw a 90 percent drop in actual versus expected spending in April 2020, by far the largest decrease for any place of service, according to a November 2021 American Medical Association report.

Ophthalmology alone saw a $1 billion drop, the highest absolute total of any surgical specialty.

Here are the seven surgical specialties that saw the biggest negative impact in Medicare physician fee spending in 2020, according to the AMA:

Medicare Specialty

2020 expected spending (in millions)

2020 actual spending (in millions)

Impact (in millions)

Impact %

Otolaryngology

$1,343

$1,018

-$326

-24%

Cardiac surgery

$271

$216

-$55

-20%

Ophthalmology

$5,367

$4,329

-$1,037

-19%

Gastroenterology

$1,680

$1,398

-$281

-17%

Colorectal surgery

$169

$140

-$29

-17%

Orthopedic surgery

$3,762

$3,175

-$587

-16%

General surgery

$1,971

$1,656

-$315

-16%

 

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