Medicare Physician Payments Data?

April 11, 2014 7:25 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

I waited with baited breath on the recently released Medicare physician payment data.  Many physician clients were concerned about the perception that information might create in the public.  I thought the information would be so incomplete it would be harmless – providing information on the receipts from one of many revenue sources and no corresponding expense information could not possibly provide realistic inference about the physician’s income.

As the information was made available, I was SHOCKED at the poor quality of information.

I searched for a couple of dozen clients I could easily verify to investigate the accuracy of the data.  These clients vary from practices that have very few Medicare patients to practices that because of the nature of their specialty are significantly populated by Medicare patients.

Here is a sample comparison between the database figure and ACTUAL Medicare payments posted by the respective practices:

Doctor #1 – Database indicates $4,691 in payments; while practice posted $80,599.

Doctor #2 – Database indicates $14,762 in payments; while practice posted $54,367.

Doctor #3 – Database indicates $59,675 in payments; while practice posted $88,961.

Doctor #4 – Database indicates $278,237 in payments; while practice posted $623,481.

My small, statistically insignificant sample did not show any doctors in the database showing more Medicare payments than they actually received. As a taxpayer, that fact is a little disturbing.

As public attacks begin on those physicians showing outlandish amounts received from Medicare I hope we can all remember that the data provided is “Close enough for government work!”

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This post was written by Brian White

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