Frequently Asked Questions

Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) are facilities where surgeries that do not require hospital admission are performed. They provide a cost-effective and convenient environment that may be less stressful than what many hospitals offer. Particular ASCs may perform surgeries in a variety of specialties or dedicate their services to one specialty, such as eye care. Patients who elect to have surgery in an ASC arrive on the day of the procedure, have the surgery in an operating room, and recover under the care of the nursing staff, all without a hospital admission.

Cost, Performance, safety and patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction is a hallmark of the ASC industry. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General surveyed Medicare beneficiaries who had one of four procedures in an ASC. He found that 98% of the people were satisfied with their experience.

One reason for high patient satisfaction is convenient scheduling. According to Ambultory Surgery Associations Outcomes Monitoring Survey, 75% of ASCs started more than 95% of their cases on time. Patients also choose ASCs for their high level of professionalism and safety. ASC's survey shows that over 50% of ASCs had fewer than two complications per 1,000 encounters and that over 95% of their medical staff is board certified. Another reason patients like ASCs is value. A 1977 study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield revealed that, on average, procedures performed at ASCs cost 47% less than those same procedures performed on hospital inpatients.

Yes. ASCs are some of the most highly regulated health care providers in the country. Medicare has certified 85% of the centers, and 43 states require ASCs to be licensed. These states also specify the criteria that ASCs must meet for licensure. Both states and Medicare survey ASCs regularly to verify that the established standards are being met. In addition to state and federal inspections, many surgery centers choose to go through voluntary accreditation process conducted by their peers. ASCs that want to demonstrate a commitment to quality can seek accreditation from one of four accrediting bodies. All four are recognized by Medicare for their rigorous adherence to the highest standards of quality care. All accredited ASCs must meet specific standards that are evaluated during on-site inspections. As a result, patients visiting accredited ASCs can be assured that the centers provide the highest quality care.

Yes. Since 1982, when Medicare agreed to pay for surgeries performed in ASCs, the program has saved a significant amount of money. ASCs that receive Medicare payments must meet the program's certification criteria and receive payments only for those procedures that have been approved by Medicare. In 2010, there were 5,319 medicare certified ASC's serving over 3.3 million medicare beneficiaries. The Office of Inspector General recently commented in their 1999 final rule regarding safe harbor provisions that "ASCs can significantly reduce costs for Federal health care programs, while simultaneously benefiting patients." CMS has promoted the use of ASCs as cost-effective alternatives to higher cost settings, such as hospital inpatient surgery.