Who Is Making a Small Fortune Off Medicare?
Are doctors making a small fortune off Medicare?
On April 9, the Washington Post reported that, according to new data, Medicare, the government insurance program for elderly people, has paid nearly 4,000 physicians more than $1 million each in 2012.
These findings reveal the possibility of corruption in our government and its programs. “The release of the information gives the public access for the first time to the billing practices of individual doctors nationwide,” reported the Post. The highest billing totals could reflect for some physician’s extreme efficiency or an unusually high number of patients. However, it could also signal fraudulent behavior among doctors, as has been previously found by government inspectors.
The Washington Business Journal reported on April 9 that before the leak of this information, “The American Medical Association and other physician groups had resisted the data release, arguing the information violates doctor privacy and the public may misconstrue details about individual doctors.” The doctors who profited the most were those who specialize in procedures that require costly operations.
“The specialists most common at the top ranks of the Medicare payments were ophthalmologists, oncologists, and pathologists,” according to the Washington Post. Many of these doctors understandably worry this data released to the public could be misleading. For instance, the Post quoted Minh Nguyen, “a hematologist-oncologist at Orange Coast Oncology in Newport Beach, Calif.,” who said, “It looks like I’m getting paid $9 million . . . but it’s a pass-through,” he said. “The majority of the billing goes to pay the drug companies.”