Radiology ranks high as a recipient of Medicare dollars

Radiology ranked fifth among medical specialties that received the most in Medicare payments in 2012, according to an article on Bloomberg.

Last Wednesday, Medicare released data detailing how much it had paid to physicians and other health care professionals. According to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the release covers data from more than 880,000 distinct healthcare providers who collectively received $77 billion in Medicare payments in 2012.

Diagnostic radiology accounted for 28,555 providers who received an average Medicare payment of $119,379, for a total payout of $3.41 billion in 2012. The specialties topping diagnostic radiology included internal medicine, ophthalmology, cardiology and family practice.

Interventional radiology and nuclear medicine lagged far down the list. The former accounted for 1,014 providers, who were paid an average of $144,210, for a total of $146.2 million, while the latter accounted for 542 providers who were paid an average of $116,690, for a total of $63.2 million.

"Data transparency is a key aspect of transformation of the healthcare delivery system," CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in the announcement. "While there's more work ahead, this data release will help beneficiaries and consumers better understand how care is delivered through the Medicare program."

But medical organizations and associations are less than thrilled with the release of this data. For instance, the former American Medical Association President Nancy Nielsen, Ph.D., argued that the data lacks context. Mark Reiter, M.D., president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, meanwhile, said that the general public needs to understand that these numbers represent revenue, not income.

To learn more:
- see the article on Bloomberg
- check out the announcement from HHS

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