Health Care Reform: Medicare Coverage for Joint Replacement

Health Care Reform: Medicare Coverage for Joint Replacement

At the 20th Annual American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons meeting in Dallas, Texas, on November 5 through 7, 2010, there was extensive discussion about the impact of upcoming health care reform. Numerous studies have outlined the increased demand for hip and knee replacement over the next 20 years. There is expected to be a 600 percent increase in knee replacement and 200 percent increase in hip replacement during that time.

As fewer medical students are entering orthopedic surgeon residencies, there is an anticipated shortfall in appropriately trained orthopedic surgeons to handle this demand for joint replacement.

In addition, facing a 25 to 30 percent decrease in reimbursement for joint replacement surgery, approximately 50 percent of the members of the American Hip and Knee Association have indicated they will drop Medicare patients. This will create a significant crisis for Medicare enrollees to find surgeons to perform their joint replacement surgery. Working with the newly reconfigured congress, it is incumbent that physicians, patients, and legislators work together to avoid this looming health care crisis.

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