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Male Doctors Make More than Female Doctors in Medicare

Update Date: Apr 23, 2014 09:30 AM EDT

A new analysis of statistics provided by a federal report revealed that male doctors in Medicare make significantly more money than female doctors do. This huge gap in costs between genders suggests that male and female doctors provide different kinds of medical care.

For the report, NerdWallet reviewed data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which included information on nearly $77 billion in Medicare reimbursements and data on over 880,000 medical providers. Medicare is the U.S. health insurance program for seniors aged 65 or older and the program pays all doctors, regardless of sex, the same amount for the same services that they provide. When the researchers looked at monetary reimbursements, they found that male physicians received an average of $118,782 in Medicare reimbursements in 2012. For female physicians, the average amount of Medicare reimbursements was just $63,346.

The researchers dug a little deeper to find explanations for this wide gap. First, they reported that male physicians tended to have roughly 60 percent more Medicare patients than female physicians. Using their own data, they reported that male doctors had 512 patients on Medicare whereas female doctors only had 319.

Second, the researchers found that male physicians tended to use more procedures or services covered on Medicare. Male doctors offered an average of 5.7 services per patient whereas female doctors only offered 4.7 services per patient. Due to this difference, men ended up making 24 percent more money per Medicare patient in comparison to women. In terms of numbers, men made $262 per Medicare patient and women made $211 per patient.

"What was interesting was, we saw this discrepancy across specialties," said Andrew Fitch, a lead researcher on the report reported by CNBC. "It is something that we should be looking at, as to why this variation exists. It's worth trying to figure out if that plays a factor."

The researchers stated that if male and female doctors practice medicine differently from one another, it could pose a problem for overall medical care. Furthermore, extra services that might not be necessary could put a strain on patients and the health care system as well.

The report, "Why Women Doctors Make Half of What Men Do: Medicare's Doctor Gender Pay Gap," can be found here.

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