Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

The Utilization and Costs of Grade D USPSTF Services in Medicare, 2007-2016.

  • Author(s): Oronce, Carlos Irwin A
  • Fendrick, A Mark
  • Ladapo, Joseph A
  • Sarkisian, Catherine
  • Mafi, John N
  • et al.


Low-value care, or patient care that offers no net benefit in specific clinical scenarios, is costly and often associated with patient harm. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Grade D recommendations represent one of the most scientifically sound and frequently delivered groups of low-value services, but a more contemporary measurement of the utilization and spending for Grade D services beyond the small number of previously studied measures is needed.


To estimate utilization and costs of seven USPSTF Grade D services among US Medicare beneficiaries.


We conducted a cross-sectional study of data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) from 2007 to 2016 to identify instances of Grade D services.


NAMCS is a nationally representative survey of US ambulatory visits at non-federal and non-hospital-based offices that uses a multistage probability sampling design. We included all visits by Medicare enrollees, which included traditional fee-for-service, Medicare Advantage, supplemental coverage, and dual-eligible Medicare-Medicaid enrollees.

Main measures

We measured annual utilization of seven Grade D services among adult Medicare patients, using inclusion and exclusion criteria from prior studies and the USPSTF recommendations. We calculated annual costs by multiplying annual utilization counts by mean per-unit costs of services using publicly available sources.

Key results

During the study period, we identified 95,121 unweighted Medicare patient visits, representing approximately 2.4 billion visits. Each year, these seven Grade D services were utilized 31.1 million times for Medicare beneficiaries and cost $477,891,886. Three services-screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria, vitamin D supplements for fracture prevention, and colorectal cancer screening for adults over 85 years-comprised $322,382,772, or two-thirds of the annual costs of the Grade D services measured in this study.


US Medicare beneficiaries frequently received a group of rigorously defined and costly low-value preventive services. Spending on low-value preventive care concentrated among a small subset of measures, representing important opportunities to safely lower US health care spending while improving the quality of care.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View