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November 1986

Ophthalmologic Services as a Component of Medicare Spending

Arch Ophthalmol. 1986;104(11):1609-1610. doi:10.1001/archopht.1986.01050230047028

The significant increases in general Medicare outlays over the past decade have led to analysis of that portion of funds devoted to reimbursement of physician services. While total Medicare benefit payments of $60.9 billion represented 6.6% of the federal budget in fiscal year (FY) 1984, expenditures for physicians' services totaled $14.9 billion, equivalent to 24.5% of the total and ranking second to hospital costs.1,2 A recent review of Medicare spending patterns by Burne and Schieber3 of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) analyzes the details of such funding.

These data are of general interest, but also have particular value for ophthalmologists who, as a group, derive a considerable portion of their income from Medicare. The half million cataract extractions performed in FY 1983 on patients older than 65 years of age account for nearly 8.1% of all surgical procedures performed in that age group, giving this operation the

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