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Female oncologists submit fewer
charges, and are reimbursed and
paid less by Medicare, according
to a new study

Female oncologists submit fewer charges, paid less than male

by John R. Fischer , Staff Reporter
Female radiation oncologists submit fewer charges, are reimbursed less per charge and are paid less by Medicare, compared to their male counterparts.

That is the conclusion reached by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles in a new study which examined the charge and payment information of individual radiation oncologists in outpatient and hospital environments.

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“Our findings of fewer numbers of payments and payments of lower monetary value to female physicians are consistent with reports in other historically male-dominated specialties, such as ophthalmology, otolaryngology, and general surgery, as well as with nationwide studies of older CMS Open Payments program data,” lead author Dr. Ann C. Raldow, assistant professor in the department of Radiation Oncology David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told HCB News.

The research team examined the 2016 Medicare & Medicaid Services Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File as a basis for their investigation.

They found that 4,393 radiation oncologists submitted claims to Medicare, with male physicians in outpatient settings submitting an average of 1,051 more charges than females, resulting in a $143,610 difference in revenue. Those in hospital or similar healthcare facilities provided an average 432 more charges to Medicare, and received back $26,735 more than their female colleagues in revenue.

These discrepancies were even wider when making comparisons in the group of radiation oncologists submitting the most Medicare claims. Women radiation oncologists made $345,944 less than males in outpatient settings, and $33,026 less in hospital environments.

While no sources for the discrepancy were confirmed in this investigation, the team expects to explore possible reasons through future research endeavors.

“We plan to look at the claims submitted by men and women over this same time period to determine if there is a difference in the types of services that men and women bill for,” said Raldow. “We also plan to dig a little bit deeper into the population of physicians who collect the most Medicare dollars to see if we can learn anything about how billing patterns differ between men and women among those collecting the highest reimbursements from Medicare.”

The team of researchers consisted of Dr. Reshma Jagsi, Dr. Sumayya Ahmad, Dr. Michael Steinberg, Julius Weng and Fang-I Chu.

No financial support was provided to the authors for their investigation.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

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