Medicare providers who acquire computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging equipment self-refer for imaging at almost double the rate they did before obtaining the equipment, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report released this week.
Providers who already owned the equipment or who did not self-refer slightly decreased their use of advanced imaging over the same study period (2008 to 2010). In general, self-referrers used advanced imaging at double the rate of those who did not self-refer.
The report’s findings “suggest that financial incentives for self-referring providers were likely a major factor driving the increase in referrals.” The GAO estimates that there were 400,000 excess referrals in 2010, costing Medicare $109 million.
Source: GAO report