Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Maldistribution Of Medicare Payments To Doctors

Medicare collects an enormous amount of data on the payments that it makes to medical doctors.  It plans to release this information to the public.  There is a link to an interactive data base that allows the public to search the data base by physician name to find the total amount of Medicare disbursements made to any physician under Medicare Part B.  One of the findings in the data is that Medicare disbursements are concentrated in a relatively small number of physicians.   One quarter of the physicians receive 76% of the disbursements, and 2% receive 23.6% of disbursements.  The data also provide information about the distribution of payments in relation to areas of medical practice.  One specialization that has received a lot of attention is ophthalmology.  More payments have gone to this specialty than any other specialty, and one physician has received $21 million in Medicare disbursements.  He has a very large practice that specializes in a treatment for a common eye problem among the elderly.  He is more of a business person than a physician and he is under investigation by the government.  He also has non-medical investments in the Dominican Republic and a close relationship with a US senator.

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