Reimbursement patterns for neurosurgery: Analysis of the NERVES survey results from 2011-2016

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2019 Sep;184:105406. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2019.105406. Epub 2019 Jul 2.


Objective: In response to rising national health expenditures, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010, with major provisions implemented in 2014. Due to increasing concerns about workload and compensation among neurosurgeons, we evaluated trends in neurosurgical reimbursement, productivity and compensation before and after the implementation of the major provisions of the ACA.

Patients and methods: Results from Neurosurgery Executives' Resource Value and Education Society (NERVES) annual surveys were collected, representing data from 2011 to 2016. Responses from different practice settings across the six years were categorized into groups, and inverse variance-weighted averaging was performed within the frameworks of a one-way ANOVA model with year. Data from 2011 to 2013 and 2014-2016 were analyzed similarly for differences among practice setting and region.

Results: The NERVES survey response rates ranged from 20% to 36%. Median values for compensation decreased by 3.66%, 6.42%, and 10.34% within private, hospital, and academic practices respectively after 2014 although these trends did not reach statistical significance. Median work RVUs had a trend to decrease by 5.67%, 13.08%, and 19.44% within private, hospital, and academic practices respectively after 2014. Academic practices showed statistically significant decreases in annual total RVUs, total gross charges and collections.

Conclusion: These data demonstrate neurosurgical reimbursement and productivity have trended down during a time that increases in productivity and reimbursement were predicted. This phenomenon is most notable in academic practices compared to private or hospital based practices. Prospective analyses of the impact of healthcare policy reform on neurosurgical productivity are urgently needed.

Keywords: ACA; Affordable Care Act; NERVES; Neurosurgery; Reimbursements.

MeSH terms

  • Fee-for-Service Plans / economics*
  • Fee-for-Service Plans / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurosurgeons / economics*
  • Neurosurgeons / trends*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / economics*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / trends*
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / economics
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / trends
  • Societies, Medical / economics
  • Societies, Medical / trends
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*