Younger, newer doctors tend to run up a higher healthcare tab for their patients than their more established colleagues, according to a new study published in the November 2012 issue of Health Affairs.

A study, sponsored by RAND Corporation, examined insurance claims filed by more than 12,000 physicians in Massachusetts between 2004 and 2005. Those filed by doctors with fewer than 10 years’ experience generated 13.2% higher costs for “comparable episodes of care” (eg, diagnosing and treating a breast lump), compared with costs incurred by doctors with 40 or more years of experience.

There was no association found between costs and other characteristics such as malpractice claims, board certification status, or practice size. Nor did less experienced doctors order proportionately more imaging or other tests.

Researchers surmise that less experienced (and younger) doctors may be more aware of — and more likely to use — newer and costlier treatments than are older counterparts. Another theory is that a lack of experience makes doctors more wary about legal responsibility so they consult specialists more often, order more tests, and retain patients in a hospital longer.

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…why do you think younger doctors are bigger spenders?

Click here to view the study abstract.