Cost-effectiveness or value of cardiovascular therapies may be undermined by unwarranted cost variation, particularly for heterogeneous procedures such as catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF). We sought to characterize cost variation of AF ablation in the U.S. health care system and the relationship between cost and outcomes.We performed a retrospective cohort study using data from the MarketScan® commercial claims and Medicare supplemental databases including patients who received an AF ablation from 2007 through 2011. We aggregated encounter cost, reflecting total payments received for the encounter, to the facility level to calculate median facility cost. We classified procedures as outpatient or inpatient and assessed for association between cost and 30-day and one-year outcomes. The analysis cohort included 9,415 AF ablations (59±11 years; 28% female; 52% outpatient) occurring at 327 facilities, with large cost variation across facilities (median: $25,100; 25th percentile: $18,900, 75th percentile: $35,600, 95th percentile: $57,800). Among outpatient procedures, there was reduced health care utilization in higher cost quintiles with reductions in rehospitalization at 30-days (Quintile 1: 16.1%, Quintile 5: 8.8%, p < 0.001) and one-year (Quintile 1: 34.8%, Quintile 5: 25.6%, p < 0.001), which remained significant in multivariate analysis.Although median costs of AF ablation are below amounts used in prior cost-effectiveness studies that demonstrated good value, large facility variation in cost suggests opportunities for cost reduction. However, for outpatient encounters, association of cost to modestly improved outcomes suggests cost containment strategies could have variable effects. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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