Doctor self-referrals for advanced imaging cost Medicare $100M in 2010

Published on November 2, 2012 at 4:41 AM · No Comments

According to a Government Accountability Office report, doctors who referred patients for tests involving advanced imaging machines that they or a family member owned cost Medicare more than $100 million in 2010.

Modern Healthcare: Self-Referral Boosts Medicare Imaging Costs: GAO
In 2010, it's estimated that providers who self-referred patients for advanced imaging made about 400,000 more referrals than they would have had they not had a financial interest in the imaging equipment and that these referrals cost the Medicare system an additional $109 million, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. In 2010, some 6.8 million magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography services for Medicare beneficiaries were conducted in a physician office or independent diagnostic testing facility, according to the report, and this accounted for about 23 percent of all such services delivered to Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries (Robeznieks, 10/31).

The Hill: GAO: Doctors' Self-Referrals Cost Medicare More Than $100M
Patients are at risk and Medicare is wasting money because of doctors who refer patients to facilities they own, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Wednesday. Congressional Democrats said the findings show that some doctors are lining their own pockets at the expense of patients and taxpayers. GAO found a steep rise in the number of self-referrals -- doctors ordering tests at facilities where they or their family members have a financial stake. Critics argue that self-referral leads to wasteful spending because doctors will order unnecessary tests just to collect a payment from Medicare (Baker, 10/31).

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