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Sept 21, 1984

Distribution of Medicare Payments

Author Affiliations

Jamestown, NY

JAMA. 1984;252(11):1409. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350110015013

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To the Editor.—  Physicians are always blamed for ever-increasing medical costs, especially for Medicare. However, other industries are being supported by Medicare. We would like to share our recent experience.An elderly woman was admitted to the hospital twice in 1983, for heart disease and fracture. Because of complications, some six physicians saw the patient. When she died, the estate lawyer declared that there was no estate left whatsoever, except Medicare payments for the doctor bill. Apparently no one accepted assignments, and the Medicare "reimbursement" was sent directly to the estate. The lawyer paid the funeral home first, then himself in full. Then he distributed the remainder to the physicians according to the size of the bills or "contribution" to the estate. Some physicians received less than 30% of what they billed Medicare.Thus, the funeral home and the lawyer benefited by receiving 100% of their bills from the estate