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February 1992

Ophthalmology Is the Single Largest Recipient of Medicare Specialty Disbursements

Arch Ophthalmol. 1992;110(2):168-169. doi:10.1001/archopht.1992.01080140018004

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To the Editor.  —Ophthalmology garners a greater share of Medicare reimbursement than any other medical or surgical specialty. This is of great interest amid the current concern regarding reductions in Medicare payments to ophthalmologists under the resource-based relative value scale.See also p 178.The Health Care Financing Administration has recently released statistics concerning Medicare expenditures for physician services. In analyzing the distribution of Medicare payments to physicians for calendar years 1984 through 1988 (Table and Figure), two statistics stand out.

  1. Ophthalmology exceeds all other specialties in the receipt of Medicare reimbursements by a considerable margin. In 1988, it ranked second among all categories of disbursements (10.5%), following internal medicine (14.1%). Ophthalmology far surpasses other contenders: radiology (7.6%), general surgery (6%), and cardiovascular disease (6%).

  2. Ophthalmologists have been gaining a greater share of Medicare charges. In 1984, they received 9.5% of allowed charges, steadily increasing to 10.5% in

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