Purpose To estimate geographic variation of intravitreal injection rates and Medicare anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drug costs per injection in aging Americans. Design Observational cohort study using 2013 Medicare claims database. Participants United States fee-for-service (FFS) Part B Medicare beneficiaries and their providers. Methods Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data furnished by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was used to identify all intravitreal injection claims and anti-VEGF drug claims among FFS Medicare beneficiaries in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2013. The rate of FFS Medicare beneficiaries receiving intravitreal injections and the mean Medicare-allowed drug payment per anti-VEGF injection was calculated nationally and for each state. Geographic variations were evaluated by using extremal quotient, coefficient of variation, and systematic component of variance (SCV). Main Outcome Measures Rate of FFS Medicare Part B beneficiaries receiving intravitreal injections (Current Procedural Terminology [CPT] code, 67028), nationally and by state; mean Medicare-allowed drug payment per anti-VEGF injection (CPT code, 67028; and treatment-specific J-codes, J0178, J2778, J9035, J3490, and J3590) nationally and by state. Results In 2013, the rate of FFS Medicare beneficiaries receiving intravitreal injections varied widely by 7-fold across states (range by state, 4 per 1000 [Wyoming]-28 per 1000 [Utah]), averaging 19 per 1000 beneficiaries. The mean SCV was 8.5, confirming high nonrandom geographic variation. There were more than 2.1 million anti-VEGF drug claims, totaling more than $2.3 billion in Medicare payments for anti-VEGF agents in 2013. The mean national Medicare drug payment per anti-VEGF injection varied widely by 6.2-fold across states (range by state, $242 [South Carolina]-$1509 [Maine]), averaging $1078 per injection. Nationally, 94% of injections were office based and 6% were facility based. Conclusions High variation was observed in intravitreal injection rates and in Medicare drug payments per anti-VEGF injection across the United States in 2013. Identifying factors that contribute to high variation may help the ophthalmology community to optimize further the delivery and use of anti-VEGF agents.
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