Medicare Overpays $6.7 Billion for Patient Evaluation Services

Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much in 2010 by “inappropriately” paying claims from physicians who had submitted the wrong billing codes or no documentation at all for certain services, according to a new report from the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although that amount was a small fraction of Medicare’s total spending of more than $525 billion in 2010, it still added up to 21 percent of what Medicare paid for all “evaluation …

Medicare Patients Now Can Do a Check-Up on Doctors

In a major data release this morning, Medicare shared information on $77 billion in payments to more than 880,000 health care providers. Consumers for the first time can look up doctors, find out the number of procedures they have performed and how much Medicare paid. This is one piece of the puzzle for determining the overall value of care being delivered. The information, from 2012 Medicare Part B payments, already has generated some eye-popping articles, with reports of one Florida ophthalmologist receiving …

Looking for a Medicare Doctor? New Ratings Can Help

Medicare patients have new help in picking a doctor, the federal government recently announced. Quality ratings for medical practices have been added to Medicare’s Physician Compare website, a national list of physicians and other health care providers who accept Medicare. “Patients and their families need facts to help them in making important decisions about health care, and choosing the right physician is one of the most important decisions they face,” says Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare …

The Maverick Doctor Who Helped to Invent Family Medicine

In the late 1950s, a young physician named Gene Farley was working as a small-town doctor in rural New York state when he came to the realization that what he had learned in medical school was all wrong. >> Sign up for the AARP Leisure Newsletter Farley, who died on Nov. 8 at age 86 in Wisconsin, explained in a 1992 oral history interview that his change in thinking came about as he was treating two teenage boys from different families …

More Doctors Accepting New Medicare Patients

It’s getting easier – not more difficult – to find doctors who take Medicare, according to a new study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Doctors have long complained about Medicare’s payment caps and the instability of a reimbursement system that forces cuts each year unless Congress intervenes to prevent them. Nonetheless, the HHS study says that the number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients is actually higher than the number taking new private insurance patients, according to …

Should Doctors Ask If You Own a Gun?

No one questions when a doctor asks if an older, cognitively impaired patient is still driving, and urges family members to take away the car keys for the safety of the patient and everyone else. So why is it any different for a doctor to ask if a patient with similar problems has guns at home that could endanger him or others? There is no difference — it’s simply the doctor’s role in contributing to patient and public safety, argues …