The Obama administration released physician data April 9 that revealed Medicare's top-paid doctors in 2012. According to the Associated Press, a group of doctors each received at least $3 million each and another was issued nearly $21 million.
Medicare paid Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen $20.8 million and a total of almost $1.5 billion was paid out to just 344 physicians, the AP's analysis found. Melgen's lawyer said that the doctor abided by the Medicare billing rules and the payouts were a reflection of high drug costs.
Approximately 25 percent of the top-paid Medicare doctors practice in Florida followed by doctors in California, New Jersey, Texas and New York, the AP reported. There were 151 eye specialists that were issued at least $3 million and accounted for almost $658 million in Medicare payments. Cancer doctors were given $477 million on payments from Medicare.
For its analysis, the AP only focused on individual physicians and excluded approximately 55,000 organizations that are also in the Medicare database. None of the organizations, including ambulance services, were paid more than $3 million, the source reported.
According to the AP, Medicare paid out almost $64 billion to physicians in 2012, the medium payment of which was $30,265.
Before the information from the Medicare claims database was released, some professionals argued it would reveal too much information about a doctor; however, the Obama administration opened the claims in hopes that it would provide guidance for patients seeking doctors who provide high-quality, cost-effective care, the AP reported.