Medicaid patients 5.5 times more likely to get cataract surgery than VA patients, study finds

Mar 18, 2010

Patients seen at private facilities reimbursed by Medicare were more than 550 percent more likely to have routine cataract surgery than those who received their care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, a strong indication that the frequency of cataract surgery may be responsive to financial incentives to either or both the medical facility and the physicians who perform the procedure.

These findings from a large eight-year study are reported in the March 2010 issue of the American Journal of Medical Quality.

The authors are uncertain of the cause of the disparity in cataract surgery given that the vast majority of older veterans are enrolled in both Medicare and the VA health system, both government-funded systems.

"We don't know yet what exactly accounts for the five and a half fold difference in surgery rates between the two systems. It may be related to how the two systems are funded by the government, it could be a difference between physician-driven decisions or it may be related to a lack of ophthalmologists within the VA system or it could be more than one of these factors,' said first author Dustin French, Ph.D., Regenstrief Institute investigator and assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. French is a health economist who studies health outcomes.

VA physicians and hospitals do not have the same financial incentives to perform cataract surgery as physicians and medical facilities outside the VA system.

"The results of our study raise important questions about the possible existence of a two-tier, federally funded health-care system that may not be equivalent in terms of quality of care," said Dr. French, who is also a research scientist with the Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence Based Practice at the Richard A. Roudebush VA Medical Center.

The authors note that their findings provide ample reason to further investigate the determinants of cataract surgery rates. Nationwide, is the most common surgical procedure performed by ophthalmologists.

Explore further: With kids in school, parents can work out

Provided by Indiana University School of Medicine

4 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How health care is paid for appears to impact outcome

Feb 25, 2010

Whether an individual is treated for a hip fracture at a hospital reimbursed by Medicare or is treated at a Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center makes a significant difference in what happens to the patient after ...

Virtual trainer teaches residents cataract surgery

Feb 02, 2010

The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Cataract Surgery Trainer, a virtual training tool which helps to train physicians to perform cataract surgery, has been shown to enhance teaching in cataract surgery when compared to ...

Recommended for you

With kids in school, parents can work out

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Back-to-school time provides an opportunity for parents to develop an exercise plan that fits into the family schedules, an expert suggests.

Obama offers new accommodations on birth control

8 hours ago

The Obama administration will offer a new accommodation to religious nonprofits that object to covering birth control for their employees. The measure allows those groups to notify the government, rather than their insurance ...

Use a rule of thumb to control how much you drink

8 hours ago

Sticking to a general rule of pouring just a half glass of wine limits the likelihood of overconsumption, even for men with a higher body mass index. That's the finding of a new Iowa State and Cornell University ...

User comments : 0