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That is a question posed by this CNBC article looking at the differences in how many services male and female doctors perform with Medicare patients:

The diagnosis: a serious case of medical gender gap.

Male doctors on average make 88 percent more in Medicare reimbursements than female physicians, according to an analysis of recently released government data, which suggests that the gender of a medical provider could play a role in the number of services they provide patients.

The NerdWallet research found that male physicians on average were paid $118,782 in Medicare reimbursements by the federal government in 2012, compared with $63,346 for women doctors.

Naturally, the “alarming” headline of the article is that male doctors are paid more in Medicare reimbursement than female doctors. However, the real question might be:

“This certainly begs the question of whether men and women practice medicine differently,” Ositelu said. “The bottom line is patients may experience higher costs through doctors who bill for more services per patient.”

Higher costs or tests run that save lives or just make them better? Why are more procedures worse? Maybe men are more willing to ask for procedures that their female counterparts do not? Also, note that men see many more Medicare patients, an average of 512 per male doc and only 319 per female doc. Why is that? Are females less willing to see Medicare patients or less able to take on more of them as clients? And if you see more patients, don’t you charge for more services? This is a troubling article, one that doesn’t look at the quality of medicine and the reasons behind why procedures are being performed, but rather, wonders why women docs are getting less money than men from the government Medicare program.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

image via shutterstock / Edyta Pawlowska