Orthopedic surgery patients assume that their surgeons are being reimbursed far more for procedures than they actually are, suggests a study recently published in The Spine Journal.
The study's authors mailed surveys to 385 patients who'd had spine procedures in 2010 and 2011. Of the 103 who responded, 62% presumed their surgeons had earned thousands more on their cases than they actually had. For minor procedures, patients typically guessed reimbursements had been between $5,000 and $10,000. In reality, the highest Medicare reimbursement was $1,363 and the highest private insurer reimbursement was $2,038.
Among patients who'd had major surgeries, 28% guessed their surgeons had been paid more than $15,000. In fact, the highest reimbursement was less than $7,000. Patients also assumed surgeons earned additional fees for post-operative visits, but in all cases, initial payments actually covered all surgical care for 3 months.
Lead author K. Linnea Walton, MD, an orthopedic surgery resident at the University of Michigan, says that the point of the study was not to push for higher salaries for orthopedic surgeons but to show that patients on the whole don't "have a good idea of how our healthcare dollars are allocated."