Are patients willing to pay out of pocket for spine surgery?


As the cost of healthcare in the U.S. continues to rise, patients are becoming more reluctant to pay for pricey procedures, especially out of pocket. 

A new study published in The Spine Journal investigates whether most patients are willing to pay out of pocket for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, degenerative lumbar spinal fusions and adult spine deformity surgery. 

The study surveyed 979 respondents on whether or not they would pay for the three procedures at different, increasing price options. Respondents were also presented with cost-saving methods and asked to select which ones made them most comfortable. 

The average age of respondents was 36.2, and nearly half had a household income of between $50,000 and $100,000. 

About 40% of respondents reported high levels of financial stress and 63% were Medicare users, while 13% were Medicaid users. 

About 30.1% of participants were willing to undergo an ACDF, 30.3% were willing to undergo an LF and 29.6% were willing to undergo ASD surgery for the cost of $3,000. Following a $100 price increase, willingness decreased by 2.1% for ACDF, 1.8% for LF and 2% for ASD. 

The cost savings measures patients were least comfortable with for ACDF included using the older generation of implants or devices (60%), having the surgery performed at a community hospital instead of a major academic center (61%), administration of anesthesia by a nurse anesthetist (55%) and a video/telephone postoperative visit (36%). 

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