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Does the Profitability of an Outpatient Surgery Influence where it is Performed? A Look at Ambulatory Surgery Centers and Hospitals


  • Plotzke, Michael

    () (Abt Associates Inc.)

  • Courtemanche, Charles

    () (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics)


Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) are small (typically physician owned) healthcare facilities that specialize in performing outpatient surgeries and therefore compete against hospitals for patients. Physicians who own ASCs could potentially treat their most profitable patients at their ASCs and less profitable patients at hospitals, reducing hospitals' profit. This paper asks if the profitability of an outpatient surgery impacts where a physician performs the surgery. Using data from the National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery, we find that higher profit surgeries do have a higher probability of receiving treatment at an ASC compared to a hospital. After controlling for the type of surgery performed, we find that a 10% increase in a surgery's profitability is associated with a 1 to 2 percentage point increase in the probability the surgery is performed at an ASC.

Suggested Citation

  • Plotzke, Michael & Courtemanche, Charles, 2009. "Does the Profitability of an Outpatient Surgery Influence where it is Performed? A Look at Ambulatory Surgery Centers and Hospitals," UNCG Economics Working Papers 09-4, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:uncgec:2009_004

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    More about this item


    Ambulatory Surgery Center; Physician Ownership; Outpatient Surgery; Profit;

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets

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