Health / Pharma

Medicare's Big Data Dump Is Just That – A Dump

Based on the headlines, many might think that the sole purpose of the Medicare data (released last week) was a scavenger hunt for the “Medicare Millionaires.” There was certainly no shortage of headlines with that exact phrase.

Medicare Millionaires Emerge in Data on Doctor Payments (Bloomberg)

Medicare millionaires: Florida eye doc got $21 million from Medicare in 2012 (NY Daily News)

Medicare millionaires: Who are the top paid doctors? (The Christian Science Monitor)

Who are the Medicare millionaires? (MSNBC)

Medicare millionaires (CNBC)

Medicare millionaires emerge in data on physician payments (Providence Business News)

340 Texas doctors among Medicare’s millionaires (Dallas News)

First Data Detail in 33 Years Shows 4,000 Medicare Millionaires (MoneyNews)

For those so inclined, the Medicare PUF (Public Use Files) are available in two formats (here), but fair warning – the uncompressed tab delimited file containing more than 9 million records is about 1.7GB. The Excel format is divided alphabetically into 12 separate files, so that could be a little easier to work with.

The trouble, of course, is that data (any size) isn’t insight and in this case specifically, revenue isn’t profit. Large and frequent Medicare bills are often legitimate and often get processed for many providers through a single name or entity.

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