Trends in Health Care Expenditures and Patient Out-of-Pocket Expenses in Primary Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Andrew D. Carbone, Kevin Wang, Justin Tiao, Brennan Chu, Jashvant Poeran, Alexis C. Colvin, James N. Gladstone, Shawn G. Anthony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) is one of the most commonly performed orthopaedic procedures in the United States, and the number of procedures is increasing annually, as is the cost. Patients are expected to shoulder a larger out-of-pocket expenditure. Purpose: To answer the following questions: (1) How is reimbursement changing for ACLR, and how is this affecting patients’ out-of-pocket expenditures? (2) How are reimbursements from payers and patients’ out-of-pocket expenses for ACLR distributed, and how is this changing? (3) Does performing ACLR in an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) result in lower costs for payers and patients? Study Design: Economic and decision analysis study; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: A total of 37,763 patients who underwent outpatient primary arthroscopic ACLR in the United States between 2013 and 2017 were identified using the IBM MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database. Patients with concomitant procedures and revision ACLR were excluded. Recorded outcomes were total patient payments and reimbursed claim totals in US dollars. Results: Day-of-surgery reimbursement decreased 4.3% from $11,536 in 2013 to $11,044 in 2017, while patient out-of-pocket expenses increased 36% from $1085 in 2013 to $1480 in 2017. Day-of-surgery charges were the highest expense for patients, followed by physical therapy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) costs. Total reimbursement for MRI decreased 22.5%, while patient out-of-pocket expenses for MRI increased 166%. ACLR performed in an outpatient hospital resulted in 61% greater day-of-surgery expenditure for payers compared with ACLR performed in an ASC; however, the median total patient out-of-pocket savings for ACLRs performed in an ASC versus outpatient hospital was only $11. Conclusion: Out-of-pocket expenses for patients are increasing as they are forced to cover a larger percentage of their health care costs despite overall payer reimbursement decreasing. High-deductible health plans reimbursed the least out of all insurance types while having the highest patient out-of-pocket expenditure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2680-2687
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • ACL
  • ACLR cost
  • economic and decision analysis
  • hospital versus ASC
  • knee
  • medical aspects of sports
  • patient expenditure for ACLR


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