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Anesthesiologists drive up cost of GI procedures

The Baltimore Sun, March 21, 2012

Researchers found that using an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist for endoscopies and colonoscopies added hundreds of dollars to the cost of a procedure—and the number of patients who went that route more than doubled between 2003 and 2009. Under fee-for-service health care, doctors who perform gastrointestinal, or GI, procedures are reimbursed from insurance companies or Medicare at the same rate whether or not they give patients sedatives and painkillers themselves. If an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist is involved to give sedation, however, they'll charge whoever's paying for the procedure an extra fee. Patients aren't necessarily getting more serious sedation—just another body in the room, one of the researchers on the new study said.