Female radiation oncologists receive lower Medicare reimbursement

(HealthDay)—Female radiation oncologists submit fewer Medicare charges, bill using fewer unique codes, and receive lower Medicare payments than male radiation oncologists, according to a study published online March 22 in JAMA Network Open.

Luca Valle, M.D., of the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues performed a retrospective cohort study using the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File to evaluate differences in productivity, breadth of practice, and payments based on sex among 4,393 radiation oncologists (1,133 women and 3,260 men) who bill Medicare in nonfacility-based and facility-based practices.

In nonfacility-based practices, female radiation oncologists submitted a mean 1,051 fewer charges than their male counterparts. Also, female physicians earned $143,610 less in revenue and used a mean of 1.32 fewer unique billing codes. In facility-based practices, female physicians submitted a mean 423 fewer charges, earned a mean $26,735 less in revenue, and submitted a mean of 1.28 fewer unique billing codes compared with male radiation oncologists.

“Understanding how sex is associated with physician activity and reimbursement in oncology is critical to moving toward a more equitable profession, whereas failure to identify and address potential barriers to economic advancement within radiation oncology may collectively weaken the specialty by further discouraging women from entering the field,” the authors write.

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