In patients with appropriate indications, performance of both colonoscopy and esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) at the same time (bundling) is convenient for patients, efficient for providers, and cost saving for the health care system.
However, Medicare reimbursement for bundled procedures is at a rate that is less than the sum of the 2 procedures when charged separately, and this may create a disincentive to bundle.
The practice patterns of bundling are unknown at a US population-based level.
Dr Hashem El–Serag and colleagues from Texas, USA examined Medicare claims from 2007 to 2009 from the Carrier file in a national, random sample of fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 66 and older.
|35% of procedures were not bundled on the same day|
|Clinical Gastroenterology & Hepatology|
The researchers identified patients who had both a colonoscopy and esophagogastroduodenoscopy performed within 180 days of each other and calculated the proportions of patients with both procedures bundled on the same date, within 1 to 30 days, and within 31 to 180 days of each other.
The team compared patients in these 3 groups for demographics and clinical indications for the procedures.
The research team identified 12,982 Medicare-enrolled individuals who had a colonoscopy, and an esophagogastroduodenoscopy performed within 180 days of each other.
The researchers noted that approximately 35% of procedures were not bundled on the same day, and, of these, 18% were performed within 30 days of each other, and 17% were performed within 31 to 180 days of each other.
There were marked geographic differences in the percentage of bundling, with the lowest occurrence in the Northeast and the highest in the West.
Patients with bundled procedures were more likely to have gastrointestinal bleeding and less likely to have screening or surveillance indications.
Dr El-Serag's team comments, "Although same-day bundling of endoscopic procedures offers a number of advantages, it is not practiced in more than one-third of cases in a national sample of Medicare beneficiaries."