ASCA Survey Shows Dramatic Increases in Drug and Supply Costs

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ASCA Survey Shows Dramatic Increases in Drug and Supply Costs

Almost 100 percent of respondents share that prices of medical items and equipment have gone up in the past year

ASCA conducted its ninth 60-Second Survey and asked questions about medical supply and drug price changes over the past year. The survey, conducted last month, received 139 responses from facilities in 39 states and one respondent from the US Virgin Islands.

ASCA introduced the 60-Second Survey, a bimonthly survey series, in spring 2021. As the name suggests, each survey takes 60 seconds or less to complete and asks fewer than 10 questions on a current topic. The topic changes survey to survey and each aims to take the pulse of the ASC community to help ASCA better serve its members and the industry at large.

Survey Results

As expected, 99 percent of respondents (137/138) stated that prices of medical supplies and equipment had increased over the past year. Just one multispecialty facility in Pennsylvania reported a decrease in prices. When asked about the magnitude of price increases, 61 percent of facilities (85/139) estimated price increases between 10 and 24 percent.

When asked about drug price changes over the past year, 97 percent of respondents (134/138) reported an increase in prices. Four ASCs, two from Maryland—including a single-specialty GI facility—one from Arkansas and one in the US Virgin Islands stated that their drug prices had stayed about the same. As with medical supplies and equipment, the most reported price increase was between 10 and 24 percent (43 percent of responses). However, responses varied more widely with almost 10 percent of respondents (13/136) reporting an increase in prices greater than 50 percent.

The survey also gave respondents the opportunity to name medical supplies, equipment pieces and drugs that had most dramatically increased in price over the past year. Seventeen percent of respondents (16/96) stated an increase in the price of surgical gloves. Other common supply responses included various medical devices (26 percent) and implants (8 percent). When asked to name a single drug that had dramatically increased in price, 43 percent (42/97) said lidocaine. A majority of responses (56 percent) cited some form of local anesthesia as having dramatically increased in price. The next most common responses were Omnipaque (7 percent of respondents) and propofol (3 percent).

The findings of this survey confirm an overall environment of inflation that extends into the healthcare sector. Notably, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a zero percent update to Medicare physician rates in 2023 due to a complex set of expiring payment increases passed by Congress in 2021. ASCs are in line for a 2.7 percent effective payment increase if proposed policies are finalized. This is an average update, and 2023 reimbursement changes might vary significantly by code and specialty. Based on the results of this survey, even a 2.7 percent update might fail to keep pace with rapidly rising operational costs for ASCs.

Write Alex Taira with questions about this survey or to propose topics for future surveys.