Objective: To compare the relative value of work and reimbursement by the resource-based relative value scale (RBRVS) and the charge-based McGraw-Hill relative value scale for invasive services performed for women only (obstetric-gynecologic), for men only (urology), and in a gender-neutral specialty (general surgery).
Methods: Two hundred nineteen obstetric-gynecologic, 125 urology, and 105 general surgery invasive procedures were compared by the mean for each specialty of 1) the ratio of the procedure-specific work component of the RBRVS unit to the total relative value unit, and 2) the ratio of the procedure-specific total RBRVS unit to the McGraw-Hill relative value unit. All procedures were weighted equally. Ratios are reported as percentages. Statistics were compared by analysis of variance with Newman-Keuls test for multiple pairwise comparisons when significant differences were identified. Statistically significant differences were defined as P < .05.
Results: The mean percentage of the procedure-specific work component of the RBRVS unit to the total relative value unit and the total RBRVS unit to the McGraw-Hill unit were significantly lower (P < .01 for all comparisons) for obstetric-gynecologic (49.7 and 139.5) than for urology (55.1 and 207.1) or general surgery services (53.2 and 181.0). There were no significant differences between urology and general surgery services among the procedures studied.
Conclusion: The data support a lower relative value of work and reimbursement for services performed for women only. This may be the result of 1) high initial estimates of work for urology and general surgery services, 2) low initial estimates of work for obstetric-gynecologic services, or 3) a carry-over of reimbursement bias from the charge-based environment to the RBRVS by the methods used in its development.