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Study Finds Cancer Patients With Private Insurance Paid More for Surgery at NCI Centers Than Community Hospitals

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A JAMA study of patients with private insurance undergoing cancer surgery found insurer spending for a surgical episode was higher at National Cancer Institute (NCI) centers than community hospitals, without differences in care utilization.  The study sought to establish if there were differences in insurer spending and care utilization for patients with private insurance undergoing cancer surgery at NCI centers vs community hospitals.

The study found surgery at NCI centers, compared with community hospitals, was associated with higher insurer prices paid and higher 90-day post-discharge payments, without differences in length of stay, emergency department use, or hospital readmission.

The retrospective cross-sectional study of over 60,000 patients included adult patients with an incident diagnosis of breast, colon, or lung cancer who underwent cancer-directed surgery from 2011 to 2014.  Data were collected from the Health Care Cost Institute’s national multi-payer commercial claims data set, which encompasses claims paid by 3 of the 5 largest commercial health insurers in the United States (ie, Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare).

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