• service intensity;
  • upcoding;
  • Medicare;
  • Part B;
  • volume offset


Under Medicare Part B, adjustments to the fee schedule are made under the assumption that physicians and hospitals make up for fee reductions through increased service provision called ‘volume offsetting’. While historically, researchers have found evidence of volume offsetting, more recent studies have called into question its magnitude and existence. This study is the first to propose and empirically evaluate an alternative hypothesis of offsetting, namely the alteration of billed or provided services as a means of ‘intensity offsetting’. Evaluating both forms of offsetting, it finds strong evidence of intensity offsetting and little to no evidence of volume offsetting. Simulating a 10% reduction in the Medicare fee schedule, this study estimates that across different procedures between 22% and 59% of a fee reduction will be offset through alterations in service intensity. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.