The Great CT Bundling Heist of 2011

ImagingBiz | Medicare is looking for misvalued imaging codes—and it has already found several for which it has reduced payment. Its efforts have dismayed radiologists. Facing more revenue losses from CMS and the private insurers that follow in the agency’s footprints, radiologists feel targeted and, as a specialty, misvalued themselves.

Gary Dee, MD, treasurer of Midstate Radiology Associates, Inc (Wallingford, Connecticut), says, “I understand that Medicare has no money, but the private insurance companies are taking money out of my pocket and putting it in their pockets. It’s only going to their profit margins.”

Since the beginning of 2011, Medicare’s imposition of a new bundled CPT® code on a combined CT exam of the abdomen and pelvis has severely decreased imaging-center revenues. Many radiologists (including Dee) are particularly upset that big insurance carriers are following Medicare’s lead by imposing the same cut on the combined procedure themselves, using the new single-payment code for a CT exam of the abdomen and pelvis for what was formerly reimbursed as a two-code exam of separate, though contiguous, body parts.

“I understand Medicare,” Dee says, “but I don’t think the private insurance carriers necessarily have the right to follow it. My health-care premiums are up 13%, and this change is taking 25% out of my practice, too. This is bleak.”

Midstate Radiology Associates is a 10-physician practice in central Connecticut that operates seven imaging centers and reads for MidState Medical Center, a hospital in Wallingford. “A solo practice of 10 people is not going to take on the Anthems and Aetnas,” Dee says. “The ACR® is doing the best that it can. We’re working longer and harder, but that’s not enough.”


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