A substantial number of Medicare beneficiaries receive low-value medical services that provide no benefit to patients, such as some cancer screenings, imaging, cardiovascular, diagnostic and preoperative testing. And this may reflect a broader overuse of services while accounting for a modest proportion of overall spending. Author: Aaron L. Schwartz, B.A., Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues. Background: Several initiatives have focused on defining low-value health care services. Measuring overuse of such services may be helpful to characterize the potential extent of wasteful care and inform policies to address low-value practices. How the Study Was Conducted: The authors developed 26 claims-based measures of low-value services and used 2009 claims from more than 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries to assess the proportion of beneficiaries receiving these services, average per-beneficiary service use and the proportion of total spending connected with these services. The 26 measures included cervical cancer screening for women 65 years and older, CT scanning of the sinuses for uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), preoperative stress testing and back imaging for patients with low back pain. Results: Between 25 percent and 42 percent of Medicare beneficiaries received low-value services, which accounted for 0.6 percent to 2.7 percent of overall spending, depending on the level of sensitivity in the measure. The study did not identify specific determinants of wasteful care. Discussion: "Despite their imperfections, claims-based measures of low-value care could be useful for tracking overuse and evaluating programs to reduce it. However, many direct claims-based measures of overuse may be insufficiently accurate to support targeted coverage or payment policies that have a meaningful effect on use without resulting in unintended consequences. Boarder payment reforms, such as global or bundled payment models, could allow greater provider discretion in defining and identifying low-value services while incentivizing their elimination." Editor's Note: Developing Methods for Less is More In a related editor's note, JAMA Internal Medicine deputy editor Mitchell H. Katz, M.D., and colleagues write: "This article highlights the opportunity for eliminating unnecessary care, and we hope that others will use and improve the methods developed by the authors. Most important, we hope that development of better measures of low-value care will ultimately spur development of interventions to reduce unnecessary care." Source: Eurekalert << Five New MERS Deaths Reported in Saudi Brazil Steps Up Tourism Offensive as World Cup Looms >> Recommended Reading What is Medicare / Medicaid? Medicaid / Medicare are different governmental programs that provide medical and health-related services to specific groups of people in U.S. and managed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. READ MORE Study Suggests Regional Variation in Medicare Imaging Utilization is Considerably Less Than Variation in Imaging Costs A variety of issues relating to clinical practice, practice management, health services and policy, and radiology education and training are highlighted in the January issue. READ MORE Less Hispanic Participation in Medicare Drug Benefit may Point to Barriers Despite the existence of the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan - also known as Part D - and the availability of assistance to help pay insurance premiums, hispanic seniors are 35 percent less likely to have prescription drug coverage. READ MORE Patterns of Patient Care Examined in Medicare Accountable Care Organizations: Study Bottom Line: About one third of Medicare beneficiaries that were assigned to accountable care organizations (ACOs) in 2010 or 2011, were not assigned to the same ACO in both the years. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Color Blindness Calculator Vent Forte (Theophylline) Blood - Sugar Chart More News on: What is Medicare / Medicaid?