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DDW: Colonoscopy Rates Lower During Recession

High out-of-pocket procedure costs tied to lower screening rates, especially during recession

MONDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. screening colonoscopy rates appear to be lower during times of economic recession, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week 2011, held from May 7 to 10 in Chicago.

Spencer D. Dorn, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues used claims-based algorithms to identify screening colonoscopies using data from approximately 100 health plans. They then determined monthly rates of and median out-of-pocket (OOP) costs for such procedures performed on 50- to 64-year-old beneficiaries between January 2005 and November 2007 (pre-recession), as well as December 2007 through June 2009 (recession).

The investigators found that every month during the recession there were 68.9 fewer colonoscopies per one million insured 50- to 64-year-old individuals than would have been expected based on pre-recession trends, which translated into 516,309 fewer colonoscopies performed over the 18-month recession period. The investigators also found that individuals with high OOP procedure costs experienced lower screening rates over time, with a greater decrease in screening rates during the recession.

"During the recent economic recession, screening colonoscopy use among insured Americans decreased," the authors write. "Furthermore, members of health plans with high colonoscopy OOP costs were less likely to undergo colonoscopy at all time points, especially during the recession. This supports policies to reduce patient cost sharing for colonoscopy."

Abstract No. 221
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