Ambulatory Surgery Centers—known as ASCs—are modern health care facilities focused on providing same-day surgical care, including diagnostic and preventive procedures.
ASCs have transformed the outpatient experience for millions of Americans by providing them with a more convenient alternative to hospital-based outpatient procedures—and done so with a strong track record of quality care and positive patient outcomes.
ASCs are not rural health clinics, urgent care centers or ambulatory care centers that provide diagnostic or primary health care services. ASCs treat only patients who have already seen a health care provider and selected surgery as the appropriate treatment for their condition. ASCs are not physicians’ offices either. All ASCs must have at least one dedicated operating room and the equipment needed to perform surgery safely and ensure quality patient care.
Since 1982, when Medicare began reimbursing ASCs, the industry has saved the program billions of dollars. With approximately 5,300 Medicare-certified facilities across all 50 states, ASCs perform more than 25 million procedures each year.
Medicare saves $2.5 billion annually when surgical procedures are performed at ASCs instead of hospital outpatient departments. ASCs that receive Medicare payments must meet the program’s certification criteria and receive payments only for procedures that have been approved for reimbursement by the federal government. Today, Medicare beneficiaries can have more than 3,500 different procedures performed in an ASC. Medicare beneficiaries receive approximately 30% of the care provided in ASCs.
Patient satisfaction is a hallmark of the ASC industry. When the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General surveyed Medicare beneficiaries who had one of four procedures in an ASC, it found that 98% of the people were satisfied with their experience.
The high level of professionalism, quality and safety ASCs offer is an important reason why patients and physicians choose ASCs for surgical procedures. Studies overwhelmingly show that the quality of care delivered in ASCs is equal to or better than comparable hospital care, and more than half of ASCs report that at least 70% of their surgeries start within seven minutes of the time the procedures are scheduled to begin. Not only that, but Medicare and its beneficiaries pay an average 72% more in a hospital outpatient department than they would pay for the same procedure if performed in an ASC.
ASCs, sometimes called surgicenters, are usually small businesses owned by members of their community. In fact, 69% of ASCs have 20 or fewer employees. These small, community-based businesses benefit their communities, not only by providing access to reasonably priced surgical care, but also by contributing to the local property and income tax bases and providing services and contributions to community charities.
ASCs also make significant contributions to their communities as family-friendly employers that usually offer good health and retirement benefits and often offer flexible work schedules to their employees.