Monday Musings

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made public more hospital and physician billing data. The 2013 data covers about 950,000 providers who received $90 billion in Medicare payments. Medicare’s highest physician payments went to hematologists and oncologists, although much of their reimbursement includes the cost of the expensive chemotherapy drugs they provide.

Ophthalmologists were ranked third in reimbursement amount. Data analysis by Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that anesthesiologists, orthopedic surgeons, and emergency medicine physicians are also among the highest paid specialists. Joint replacement was the most common hospital procedure that Medicare paid for in 2013, accounting for nearly 450,000 inpatient admissions and $6.6 billion in payments. On average, in 2013, physicians received about $74,000 in Medicare reimbursement for their services, according to a Bloomberg analysis of the CMS data.

I am fairly certain that there are no wound care or hyperbaric medicine specialists in the list of the top Medicare billers. However, I have looked at the data that are publicly available on the billing of hyperbaric chamber supervision using the billing code “99183” and a few of our colleagues need to be a bit worried. Next week I will tell you why.