Though few patients may realize it, the cost of health care varies widely across different sites of service. A new study by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) adds more evidence to the growing body of literature that shows outpatient settings cost more than office settings for performing the exact same services.
In the study, HCCI looked at the utilization and average price paid from 2009 to 2017 for a set of services commonly performed in both physician office and outpatient settings and found that the share of these services performed in the outpatient setting increased between 2009 and 2017. For this set of services, the average price was always higher in an outpatient setting than an office setting.
The study found that the average price for a level 5 drug administration visit increased 57% in outpatient settings from 2009 to 2017, from $423 to $664, but only 15% in office settings, from $220 to $254. Meanwhile, in 2009, 23.4% of level 5 drug administration visits occurred in outpatient settings; by 2017 that share had increased to 45.9%.