Bundling could reduce cost of orthopedic surgery

Medical billing may have just gotten easier for orthopedic practices. Laura Miller, editor in chief of Becker's Spine Review, recently led a panel discussion with orthopedic specialists at the 12th Annual Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven Conference in Chicago. The panel focused on the future of orthopedics, specifically, the potential for bundling services to streamline the billing process.

Taking a tip from cable and utility companies, the panel of orthopedic specialists suggested that bundling all of the individual charges associated with orthopedic surgery into a single bill would simplify the billing process and make procedures more affordable for patients. This would include all standard treatment and services received within 30 days of surgery, such as physician fees, facility fees, anesthesia, imaging and physical therapy.

Often, these fees are all filed individually, sometimes even by orthopedic coding departments. When there are many hands involved in the billing process, the cost of services goes up, and the patient has to pay more. The doctors at the conference recognized bundled payments as a financial risk. However, according to Michael J. McCaslin, CPA, principal at Somerset CPAs, surgery centers could also benefit from taking on the risk of bundles.

For some people, especially those with insufficient or no insurance, orthopedic surgery can be prohibitively expensive. Anything that can be done, whether on the side of the insurance or the surgery center, to lower the costs of treatment would come as good news to people with foot, ankle, knee or leg injuries.