Purpose: The objective of the study was to determine whether the various breast biopsy procedures specified in the S 3 guidelines are sensibly represented within the current German health system as considered from a cost evaluation perspective.
Materials and methods: This prospectively designed multicenter study analyzed 221 breast biopsies at 7 institutions from 04/2006 to 01/2007. Core needle biopsies, vacuum-assisted biopsies and surgical open biopsies under sonographic or mammographic guidance were evaluated. During an analysis of process costs, the individual process steps were recorded in diagrammatic form and assigned to the true consumption of resources. The actual resource consumption costs were entered. A process-related breakeven analysis was conducted to check whether the reimbursement of individual biopsy types covers the costs.
Results: Only sonographically guided core needle biopsy and surgical open biopsy are adequately reimbursed in the current German health system. All other breast biopsies indicate a negative profit margin. The principal reasons for under-funding are found in the area of reimbursement of investment and non-personnel costs.
Conclusion: The reimbursement of breast biopsies must be improved in order to guarantee nationwide care of the population using the breast biopsy methods recommended in the S 3 guidelines and to avoid disincentives with respect to breast biopsy indications.
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