As Congress considers cuts in health care spending and the FDA prepares to reauthorize users fees for medical devices, industry lobby AdvaMed issued a report finding that national medical device prices and spending have barely budged over the last two decades.
Device and diagnostic prices have increased at an average annual rate of 1.0 percent compared to national inflation at 2.8 percent, according to the report.
Medical device spending has gone from 5.3 percent of national health expenditures in 1989 to 5.9 percent in 2009, according to the study.
"A significant driver of changed medical practice has been the development of new medical devices," the report concludes. "In view of the conventional wisdom about the role of medical technology in driving up costs, it is surprising that the cost of medical devices during this period has risen little as a share of total national health expenditures and, since 1992, has remained essentially constant as a percent of national health expenditures."
The study aims to pit the rising value of improved medical devices against flat spending as the industry battles the FDA’s reauthorization of the user fees it collects to help pay for medical device reviews. Recent meeting minutes demonstrated that industry and agency were still a long way from compromise.
“It’s important for policymakers to understand that patient access to medical technology saves lives and improves quality of care. Medical devices and diagnostics are central to medical practice, but spending on advanced medical technology is consistently a small and slow growing portion of national health expenditures,” said Ann-Marie Lynch, AdvaMed’s executive VP of payment and health care delivery policy, in the press release.
The research was conducted by Roland "Guy" King, a health care actuary, and Gerald Donohue, an authority on economic accounting.