(Bloomberg) — Medicare paid about 4,000 medical professionals more than $1 million apiece in 2012, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The Medicare program paid seven providers more than $10 million in 2012, the program paid one Florida ophthalmologist $21 million.
CMS included those figures in a database released this morning.
The database shows exactly what Medicare paid in 2012 to about 880,000 doctors and other care providers. The database lists the providers by name and covers $77 billion in payments.
Medicare paid an average of just $77,000 per provider.
The average was highest for cancer doctors specializing in blood work and radiation. They averaged about $360,000 in annual Medicare revenue.
The Obama administration decided last week to make all payment information public, excluding for privacy purposes cases in which doctors performed procedures on fewer than 11 patients.
Consumers can now see aggregate sums paid to a doctor, how that amount compares to their peers and which doctors made the most from the program. They can also see the type and how many procedures a doctor billed Medicare for.
Also included were payments to laboratories, group practices, ambulance services, and mobile X-ray providers. Multiple entities with Quest Diagnostics in their names collected a total of $669 million from Medicare, and listings for Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings totaled $717 million. The figures generally are totaled by location, not by parent company, so it’s not possible to be certain that all those with a common name are owned by the same company.
California and Florida received the largest payments with each getting more than $7 billion from Medicare followed by Texas and New York, with $5 billion a piece.
While drug and hospital costs have been scrutinized, less attention has been paid to doctors’ fees, which accounted for about 12 percent of Medicare’s budget in 2012. Making the data available may allow the public and researchers to better identify fraud and waste by doctors in the $604 billion Medicare system.
The data release has been lauded by consumer groups seeking to spotlight possible fraud or overuse and criticized by physicians, including the American Medical Association, whose head has said misinterpretation could ruin doctors’ careers.