Editor's Choice| Volume 47, ISSUE 11, P1057-1067, November 2022

Out-of-Pocket and Total Costs for Common Hand Procedures From 2008 to 2016: A Nationwide Claims Database Analysis

Published:August 16, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2022.06.018


      Rising patient out-of-pocket (OOP) costs and financial distress have been associated with reduced access to and delays in care. We evaluated whether OOP and total costs for common hand procedures have increased from 2008 to 2016 and identified key drivers of these costs.


      Using the IBM MarketScan Research Databases, we identified patients who underwent trigger finger release, open carpal tunnel release, thumb carpometacarpal joint arthroplasty, cubital tunnel release, or open treatment of distal radius fracture in the outpatient setting between 2008 and 2016. Patient OOP costs included copayment, coinsurance, and deductible payments. Costs not directly related to medical care, such as transportation and childcare costs, were not included. The overall cost was defined as the sum of the patient OOP cost and insurer reimbursements. We calculated changes in OOP and total overall costs over the study period. We also performed multivariable linear regressions to evaluate the associations between costs and procedure type, insurance type, region, and site of service.


      The mean patient OOP cost increased by 55% to 71% and the total overall cost increased by 20% to 45%, depending on the procedure, between 2008 and 2016. Facility overall costs increased by 38%, whereas professional overall costs increased by 9%. Procedures performed in an office-based setting were associated with the lowest patient OOP and total overall costs, whereas high-deductible health plans were associated with the highest OOP costs.


      Patient OOP and total overall costs increased for the most common hand procedures between 2008 and 2016, driven by a substantial increase in facility costs. Office-based procedures were associated with the lowest costs.

      Clinical relevance

      To alleviate the rising patient cost burden, hand surgeons could incorporate OOP cost considerations into shared decision-making tools, identify patients who may benefit from financial counseling, and shift procedures to an office-based setting.

      Key words

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