Cancer doctors specializing in blood work and radiation received the most compensation, according to the data, averaging over $360,000 in annual payments. Ophthalmologists were second on the list released today by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The data filed released today showed a concentration at the top. Doctors who made more than $1 million received at least 13 times the $77,000 average paid by the program. The top 3 percent among doctors who received payments collected more than $17.6 billion, or about $788,000 on average. The remaining 802,711 individual providers collected $46 billion, or less than $58,000 each on average.
The data could bring more scrutiny on doctors who engage in self-referral -- ordering up tests and procedures that are performed in their own clinics or in those in which they have a financial interest. There have already been signs that some doctors are over utilizing certain tests and procedures.
In an investigation last year by Bloomberg News, a review of court records showed about half of 700,000 stent procedures in the U.S. annually are elective-surgery patients in stable condition where use of the tiny mesh tubes to prop open arteries can lead to unnecessary proceedures, death and injury.