Physicians' Responses to Variations in Medicare Fees for Specific Services

The researchers examined how physicians’ provision of specific medical services to Medicare FFS beneficiaries responds to variations in Medicare physician fees for those services, physicians’ characteristics, and to local market factors. The study tested whether the quantities of specific services physicians provide to their Medicare fee-for-services patients are:1) positively related to the Medicare fee for each service; 2) inversely related to the fees paid by private insurance and to the level of demand from non-Medicare patients; and 3)positively related to indicators of physicians’ incentives to “induce demand.” This project expanded upon a previous study by the applicants that investigated overall provision of total Medicare services by physicians. The objective of the project was to fill a gap in past and current physician payment research by assessing if changing relative prices of specific services will contribute to meeting the broad policy goals of discouraging the provision of services that unnecessarily add to cost growth without improving quality or outcomes.