COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners: rural-urban settings and reimbursement for services

D M Anderson, M B Hampton
Journal of Rural Health 1999, 15 (2): 252-63
10511762
Evidence based on productivity measures, salaries and costs of medical education indicates that physician assistants and nurse practitioners are cost-effective. Managed care suggests that health maintenance organizations (HMOs) would seek to utilize these professionals. Moreover, underserved rural areas would utilize physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide access. This study examined the role of payment sources in the utilization of physician assistants and nurse practitioners using the 1994 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rural vs. urban results were compared. The study found that significant rural-urban differences exist in the relationships between payment sources and the utilization of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The study also found that payment source affects varied for physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who saw outpatients in hospital settings. Surprisingly, prepaid and HMO types of reimbursements are shown to have no relationship with physician assistant and nurse practitioner utilization, and this finding is the same for both rural and urban patient visits. After controlling for other influences, the study shows that physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are each as likely as the other to be present at a rural managed care visit. However, physicians are much more likely than physician assistants and nurse practitioners to be present at an urban managed care visit.

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