Most States Decreased Spending on Medical Imaging

May 19, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC-Since the peak of medical imaging costs in 2006, all states but Maryland and Oregon, have seen decreases in spending in this area.

Policy makers should take into consideration that most states have made significant decreases in medical imaging costs before putting forth new policy efforts, according to a presentation at ACR 2015, held this week in Washington, DC.

Researchers from New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, The Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute in Reston, VA, and Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, performed an assessment of recent trends in Medicare Part B spending for medical imaging. They computed annual spending per beneficiary nationally and on a state-by-state (including the District of Columbia) basis.

The results showed that National Medicare Part B imaging spending per beneficiary increased by 7.8% annually between 2004 ($350.54) and its peak in 2006 ($405.41), then decreased by 4.4% annually between 2006 and 2012 ($298.63).

Highest and lowest spending in 2012:

HighestLowest
FloridaOhio
New YorkVermont
NevadaIdaho

The geographic variation was high, increasing slightly from a high/low ratio of 4.0 in 2004 to 5.5 in 2012, but a highly consistent temporal trend was observed among states.

The researchers noted that spending peaked in 49 of 51 states (including District of Columbia) in either 2005 (six states) or 2006 (43 states). There was also a subsequent average annual decrease in state-wide spending of 5.1%. Only Maryland and Oregon showed a distinct opposite trend in imaging spending.

The researchers concluded that national Medicare Part B spending on medical imaging peaked in 2006 but has decreased since then in nearly all states. Imaging spending did recently increase in Maryland and Oregon. Future policy efforts should consider the potential impact of reduced imaging spending on patient access to imaging, particularly given the already massive decreases in some states, they said.