Geographic Variation in Otolaryngologist Intranasal Steroid Prescribing Patterns Among Medicare Beneficiaries

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2023 Feb;132(2):126-132. doi: 10.1177/00034894221079094. Epub 2022 Feb 18.


Background: Intranasal corticosteroids (INCS) are a commonly prescribed medication to treat various rhinological conditions. However, no prior studies have looked at factors and patterns that influence the rates of INCS prescriptions among Medicare beneficiaries in the United States.

Objective: This study aims to describe the patterns of INCS prescriptions by otolaryngologists for Medicare beneficiaries in the United States between 2013 and 2017.

Methods: Data on the most common INCS prescriptions by otolaryngologists for Medicare beneficiaries were obtained from the 2013 to 2017 Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File (PUF) and the Part D Public Use Files from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). INCS prescriptions were analyzed by cost, state, provider, and regional temperature. State temperature data was collected through the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Results: From 2013 to 2017, the total claims per beneficiary for fluticasone, mometasone, and triamcinolone combined increased from 2.31 to 2.39. Combined cost/beneficiary was similar for mometasone and triamcinolone at 102.47 and 103.60 respectively, while it was much lower for fluticasone at 39.12. There was a strong correlation between otolaryngology providers per beneficiary in each state and total claims per state with a correlation coefficient of .79. Additionally, comparing the average state temperature to the claims/beneficiary yielded a moderately strong correlation coefficient of .44, suggesting that temperature was a possible factor for INCS prescription patterns.

Conclusions: INCS prescriptions by otolaryngologists and the number of INCS beneficiaries have increased between 2013 and 2017. Over the same time period, the costs of fluticasone and triamcinolone have decreased while the cost of mometasone increased. Total providers by state correlated with claims per state. Additionally, average annual temperature was positively correlated with INCS claims per beneficiary in each state.

Keywords: Medicare; geographic variation; healthcare costs; intranasal corticosteroids; otolaryngologists; temperature correlation.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Aged
  • Fluticasone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Medicare*
  • Mometasone Furoate
  • Otolaryngologists*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Triamcinolone
  • United States


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Fluticasone
  • Mometasone Furoate
  • Triamcinolone