Effects of episode-based payment on health care spending and utilization: Evidence from perinatal care in Arkansas

Publication date: Available online 3 July 2018
Source:Journal of Health Economics
Author(s): Caitlin Carroll, Michael Chernew, A. Mark Fendrick, Joe Thompson, Sherri Rose
We study how physicians respond to financial incentives imposed by episode-based payment (EBP), which encourages lower spending and improved quality for an entire episode of care. Specifically, we study the impact of the Arkansas Health Care Payment Improvement Initiative, a multi-payer program that requires providers to enter into EBP arrangements for perinatal care, covering the majority of births in the state. Unlike fee-for-service reimbursement, EBP holds physicians responsible for all care within a discrete episode, rewarding physicians for efficient use of their own services and for efficient management of other health care inputs. In a difference-in-differences analysis of commercial claims, we find that perinatal spending in Arkansas decreased by 3.8% overall under EBP, compared to surrounding states. The decrease was driven by reduced spending on non-physician health care inputs, specifically the prices paid for inpatient facility care. We additionally find a limited improvement in quality of care under EBP.