The Affordability of Providing Sexually Transmitted Disease Services at a Safety-net Clinic

Lorraine T. Dean, Madeline C. Montgomery, Julia Raifman, Amy Nunn, Thomas Bertrand, Alexi Almonte, Philip A. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Sexually transmitted diseases continue to increase in the U.S. There is a growing need for financially viable models to ensure the longevity of safety-net sexually transmitted disease clinics, which provide testing and treatment to high-risk populations. This micro-costing analysis estimated the number of visits required to balance cost and revenue of a sexually transmitted disease clinic in a Medicaid expansion state. Methods: In 2017, actual and projected cost and revenues were estimated from the Rhode Island sexually transmitted disease clinic in 2015. Projected revenues for a hypothetical clinic offering a standard set of sexually transmitted disease services were based on Medicaid; private ("commercial") insurance; and institutional ("list price") reimbursement rates. The number of visits needed to cover clinic costs at each rate was assessed. Results: Total operating cost for 2,153 clinic visits was estimated at $255,769, or $119 per visit. Laboratory testing and salaries each accounted for 44% of operating costs, medications for treatment 7%, supplies 5%, and 28% of visits used insurance. For a standard clinic offering a basic set of sexually transmitted disease services to break even, a projected 73% of visits need to be covered at the Medicaid rate, 38% at private rate, or 11% at institutional rate. Conclusions: Sexually transmitted disease clinics may be financially viable when a majority of visits are billed at a Medicaid rate; however, mixed private/public models may be needed if not all visits are billed. In this manner, sexually transmitted disease clinics can be solvent even if not all visits are billed to insurance, thus ensuring access to uninsured or underinsured patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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