Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans, paid physicians $90 billion in 2013, up 17% from $77 billion in 2012, U.S. healthcare officials reported earlier this month.
Physician payments accounted for less than one-fifth of Medicare's 2013 net outlays of $492 billion, which rose from $466 billion in 2012. Payments to hospitals for the top 100 inpatient stays cost Medicare $62 billion in 2013, while the rest went for drugs, privately run Medicare Advantage plans, and other program costs.
The single-greatest hospital expense was to replace knees, hips, and other joints in 446,148 operations, with $6.6 billion paid to hospitals.
The second-greatest hospital payment, $5.6 billion, went for 398,004 cases of septicemia, or blood poisoning, often a sign of poor inpatient care. TH