Released Medicare Reimbursement Data Is Good Start, But Not the Complete Picture

April 14, 2014

According to the article “How Much Does Your Doctor Really Make?” in the Atlantic, the U.S. government released Medicare reimbursement payments to over 880,000 physicians in order to improve “transparency of Medicare payments to physicians…and shed light on Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse” according to Medicare Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum. Although the data does help uncover obvious fraud and abuses, the data is misleading without including or combining other pertinent data. It is too easy for someone to view the data as a reflection of what doctors make in salary, but this is a misguided approach to the data. These reimbursements are not all profit because the money must be used to pay not only the physician, but also the support staff and the payments for the drug(s) and/or medical devices. Additionally, this data is only for Medicare, thus omitting other forms of public and private insurance. And finally, this data is only numeric data and does not shed any light on the quality of service provided and the patient outcomes. Thus, the data only shows one side, and hides the value of quality care and patient satisfaction.

View the full article on the Atlantic: