As an election with the Affordable Care Act at its core draws near, a new analysis will be cause for concern to doctors: patients who have access to a regular source of health care that offers evening and weekend hours have significantly lower health expenditures than those who do not.
That means doctors could be forced to work a lot more weekends and evenings.
Analyzing data on more than 30,000 patients from the 2000-2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys, researchers found total expenditures were 10 percent lower among patients reporting access to extended hours in two successive years compared with those lacking such access. The researchers link the association to lower prescription drug and office visit-related (e.g., testing) expenditures. Importantly, the reduced expenditures did not have any apparent adverse effects on mortality.
The authors call for future research to formally test their hypothesis that extended office hours may be associated with relatively judicious use of primary health care resources, including more generic medication prescribing and less discretionary testing.
Article: Anthony Jerant, MD, et al,'Extended Office Hours and Health Care Expenditures: A National Study' September/October 2012 Annals of Family Medicine