Eat What You Kill: Effects of Individual Physician Billing on Utilization & Mortality
This paper uses a novel way to identify physicians who bill payers as individuals rather than as part of a group. We find that individual billing has fallen over time as expected due to consolidation of group practices and growing use of hospitalists employed directly by physicians organizations. Second, we find that hospitals that experienced the largest declines in individual billing also experience substantially slower utilization growth, despite treating similar patients over time. This is remarkable given that group payment likely includes largely utilization-based payment. Last, we find that mortality is not affected by the reduction in utilization, suggesting that organizations are able to trim utilization in ways that do not harm patients.