Small Slice of Physicians Get Huge Portion of Medicare’s Payments

A fraction of the country’s doctors account for a disproportionate share of the $77 billion in Medicare payments made to physicians in 2012, according to data released Wednesday that provides a new glimpse into the way healthcare dollars are spent.

Just 100 doctors in Florida were paid out $610 million in 2012, according to a report in The New York Times. A separate Wall Street Journal analysis of the data found that the top 1 percent of doctors accounted for 14 percent of the $77 billion in billings.

Most of those at the top work are highly specialized oncologists.According to a USA Today study, nearly $21 million went to a single ophthalmologist in Florida. Clinical laboratory workers and radiation therapy workers have by far the highest average pay under the program, each pulling in more than $1 million annually, according to the analysis.The previously undisclosed information details Medicare payments to 900,000 healthcare providers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) hadn’t been able to release the data since a court injunction more than 30 years ago, but the injunction was vacated last May.The information is now being released under the new healthcare law.