Gender Differences Exist for Surgical Practice, Billing, Coding

Billing and coding practices can, in part, account for income differences between male and female plastic surgeons, according to a study published in the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Loree K. Kalliainen, M.D., from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues assessed whether gender-related billing and coding differences may be related to the income gap between male and female physicians. The analysis included 1,036 candidates’ nine-month case lists for the American Board of Plastic Surgery (2014 to 2018).

The researchers observed significant differences between male and female surgeons in work relative value units billed, work relative value units billed per case, and the numbers of major cases performed. For male surgeons, the average total work relative value units was 19.3 percent higher than for female surgeons. With an average dollar value of $65.45 per work relative value unit, female plastic surgeons would have earned an average of $171,747 versus $212,922 for male plastic surgeons during a nine-month period. More cases were performed by male than female surgeons (90.5 versus 77.6 percent).

“This work provides new insight into and compelling evidence explaining some of the gender wage gap in plastic surgical practice,” the authors write. “Future work will be devoted to parsing out the differences in billing and coding by male and female plastic surgeons across the career spectrum.”

Abstract/Full Text

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