Comparison of 2015 Medicare relative value units for gender-specific procedures: Gynecologic and gynecologic-oncologic versus urologic CPT coding. Has time healed gender-worth?

Gynecol Oncol. 2017 Feb;144(2):336-342. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2016.12.006. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


Background: In 1992, Congress implemented a relative value unit (RVU) payment system to set reimbursement for all procedures covered by Medicare. In 1997, data supported that a significant gender bias existed in reimbursement for gynecologic compared to urologic procedures. The present study was performed to compare work and total RVU's for gender specific procedures effective January 2015 and to evaluate if time has healed the gender-based RVU worth.

Methods: Using the 2015 CPT codes, we compared work and total RVU's for 50 pairs of gender specific procedures. We also evaluated 2015 procedure related provider compensation. The groups were matched so that the procedures were anatomically similar. We also compared 2015 to 1997 RVU and fee schedules.

Results: Evaluation of work RVU's for the paired procedures revealed that in 36 cases (72%), male vs female procedures had a higher wRVU and tRVU. For total fee/reimbursement, 42 (84%) male based procedures were compensated at a higher rate than the paired female procedures. On average, male specific surgeries were reimbursed at an amount that was 27.67% higher for male procedures than for female-specific surgeries. Female procedure based work RVU's have increased minimally from 1997 to 2015.

Conclusion: Time and effort have trended towards resolution of some gender-related procedure worth discrepancies but there are still significant RVU and compensation differences that should be further reviewed and modified as surgical time and effort highly correlate.

Keywords: CPT code; Compensation; Gender bias; MACRA; RUC; RVU.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Current Procedural Terminology*
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Male / economics
  • Genital Diseases, Male / surgery*
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / economics*
  • Medicare / economics*
  • Relative Value Scales*
  • Sexism
  • United States