Medicare payments to the neurology workforce in 2012

Neurology. 2015 Apr 28;84(17):1796-802. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001515. Epub 2015 Apr 1.


Objective: Little is known about how neurology payments vary by service type (i.e., evaluation and management [E/M] vs tests/treatments) and compare to other specialties, yet this information is necessary to help neurology define its position on proposed payment reform.

Methods: Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data from 2012 were used. These data included all direct payments to providers who care for fee-for-service Medicare recipients. Total payment was determined by medical specialty and for various services (e.g., E/M, EEG, electromyography/nerve conduction studies, polysomnography) within neurology. Payment and proportion of services were then calculated across neurologists' payment categories.

Results: Neurologists comprised 1.5% (12,317) of individual providers who received Medicare payments and were paid $1.15 billion by Medicare in 2012. Sixty percent ($686 million) of the Medicare payment to neurologists was for E/M, which was a lower proportion than primary providers (approximately 85%) and higher than surgical subspecialties (range 9%-51%). The median neurologist received nearly 75% of their payments from E/M. Two-thirds of neurologists received 60% or more of their payment from E/M services and over 20% received all of their payment from E/M services. Neurologists in the highest payment category performed more services, of which a lower proportion were E/M, and performed at a facility, compared to neurologists in lower payment categories.

Conclusion: E/M is the dominant source of payment to the majority of neurologists and should be prioritized by neurology in payment restructuring efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medicare / economics*
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • Neurology / economics*
  • Neurology / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians / economics*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States