Medicare payments for medical imaging are higher to nonradiologist physicians than to radiologists

January 4, 2011

Researchers have found that Medicare payments for non-invasive medical imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans, are now higher to non-radiologists than to radiologists, according to a study in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

"Radiologists have always been considered the physicians who "control" non-invasive (NDI) and are primarily responsible for its growth. Yet non-radiologists have become increasingly aggressive in their performance and interpretation of imaging," said David C. Levin, MD, lead author of the study.

Researchers looked at Part B files covering all fee-for-service physician payments for 1998 to 2008. They selected all codes for discretionary NDI. "We found that the growth in fee-for-service payments to non-radiologists for NDI was considerably more rapid than the growth for radiologists between 1998 and 2006," said Levin.

In 1998, overall Part B payments to radiologists for discretionary NDI were $2.563 billion, compared with $2.020 billion to non-radiologists. In 2008, non-radiologists received $4.807 billion for discretionary NDI, and radiologists received $4.648 billion.

"Our data reveal the somewhat surprising finding that non-radiologist physicians are now paid more for NDI by Medicare than radiologists. This has come about because of more rapid growth in fee-for-service payments to non-radiologists between 1998 and 2006, followed by steeper losses among radiologists after implementation of the DRA in 2007," he said.

"Because most imaging by non-radiologists is self-referred, whereas radiologists generally do not have the opportunity to self-refer, this should be of interest and concern to policy makers and payers," said Levin.

More information: www.jacr.org

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rgwalther
not rated yet Jan 04, 2011
Another bizarre result of 'helpful' bureaucratic, guidelines.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.