Do Physicians Cost Shift

September 1996
Rice T, Stearns S, DesHarnais S, Pathman D, Tai-Seale M, and Brasure M

Health Affairs--September 1996

This study analyzes whether physicians charge their privately insured patients more-a practice known as cost shifting-in response to Medicare payment reductions. As part of congressional legislation in 1989 and 1990, Medicare reduced its payment rates for selected procedures by as much as 30 percent. Here we examine whether reductions in Medicare rates increase how much physicians charge privately insured patients. Our data provide no evidence that physicians respond to Medicare payment reductions by shifting costs to their privately insured patients.