Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) are modern healthcare facilities focused on providing same-day surgical care. They’ve transformed the outpatient experience for millions of Americans by providing a convenient alternative to hospital-based outpatient procedures. In March of this year, Definitive Healthcare found that procedure volumes for knee replacements, hip replacements, and bariatric surgeries at ASCs exceeded March 2019 volumes as more patients sought screenings for postponed care. They tracked the most common all-payor procedures taking place at ASCs as being cataract surgeries, colonoscopies, Botox injections for non-cosmetic purposes, and esophagogastroduodenoscopy.
The ASC model was developed in 1970 and Medicare approved payments to ASCs for more than 200 procedures in 1982. Since then, the type of surgical procedures being performed by ASCs has steadily increased to about 3,000 as the need for overnight hospital stay has declined. Medicare data show there are over 6,000 Medicare-certified ASCs in the United States today that perform about 22.5 million procedures a year. Many patients have more than just one procedure during a single visit.
“Patients who get the outpatient surgery they need in an ASC can expect significant cost-savings, efficiencies, and a patient-friendly environment,” says Bill Prentice, Chief Executive Officer of Ambulatory Surgery Center Association. “Because ASCs are small businesses dedicated solely to providing outpatient surgery, everything about each center, including the facility design, the workflow, and the equipment and supplies maintained there, is focused on making that process as efficient and as comfortable for patients as possible,” he added.
In general, ASC prices are significantly lower than hospital outpatient department (HOPD) prices for the same procedure in all markets. On average, Medicare reimburses ASCs at 53% of the rate it reimburses HOPDs for the same procedure. From 2019 to 2028, projected total Medicare savings generated by ASCs are estimated to reach $73.4 billion, according to a Medicare Cost study. Private insurers and privately insured patients typically recognize significant savings as well.