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Patient Perspectives on the Cost of Hand Surgery.


Health-care expenditures in the U.S. are continually rising, prompting providers, patients, and payers to search for solutions to reduce costs while maintaining quality. The present study seeks to define the out-of-pocket price that patients undergoing hand surgery are willing to pay, and also queries the potential cost-cutting measures that patients are most and least comfortable with. We hypothesized that respondents would be less accepting of higher out-of-pocket costs.


A survey was developed and distributed to paid, anonymous respondents through Amazon Mechanical Turk. The survey introduced 3 procedures: carpal tunnel release, cubital tunnel release, and open reduction and internal fixation of a distal radial fracture. Respondents were randomized to 1 of 5 out-of-pocket price options for each procedure and asked if they would pay that price. Respondents were then presented with various cost-saving methods and asked to select the options that made them most uncomfortable, even if those would save them out-of-pocket costs.


There were 1,408 respondents with a mean age of 37 years (range, 18 to 74 years). Nearly 80% of respondents were willing to pay for all 3 of the procedures regardless of which price they were presented. Carpal tunnel release was the most price-sensitive, with rejection rates of 17% at the highest price ($3,000) and 6% at the lowest ($250). Open reduction and internal fixation was the least price-sensitive, with rejection rates of 11% and 6% at the highest and lowest price, respectively. The use of older-generation implants was the least acceptable cost-cutting measure, at 50% of respondents.


The present study showed that most patients are willing to pay a considerable amount of money out of pocket for hand surgery after the condition, treatment, and outcomes are explained to them. Furthermore, respondents are hesitant to sacrifice advanced technology despite increased costs.


Wahl, Elizabeth P., Joel Huber, Marc J. Richard, David S. Ruch, Suhail K. Mithani, and Tyler S. Pidgeon. “Patient Perspectives on the Cost of Hand Surgery.” The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume 103, no. 22 (November 2021): 2133–40.

Published Date: 
Monday, November 1, 2021
Published In: 
The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume