Imaging as a result of self-referral-when a physician refers patients for imaging tests at a facility owned or leased by the same physician-is widespread. The practice has come under much scrutiny because it is associated with higher volumes of imaging services. Proponents of such self-referral argue that the practice offers patients convenient same-day, one-stop service and allows treatment to start sooner. Our analysis of 2006 and 2007Medicare data showed that self-referral provided same-day imaging for 74 percent of straightforward x-rays, but for only 15 percent of more-advanced procedures such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Policy makers attempting to make the use of imaging more responsible should consider narrowing Medicare's special provision allowing referrals to a physician's own practice so that the provision covers x-rays only.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy