Most of the doctors swept up in last week's national Medicare fraud takedown collected a lot more from Medicare than others in the same specialty, according to Medicare physician payment data for 2013.
Of the 18 physicians identified so far in the sweep, more than half collected at least three times as much from Medicare as the average doctor in their specialty. Only four got less than the average payment.
While a physician pulling down more Medicare money than colleagues is not necessarily a red flag in itself, it could become an indicator of fraud when combined with other elements of physician payment data.
And a look at what the indicted doctors actually got from Medicare could yield some insight as to what investigators look for in ferreting out fraud.
Take Dr. Paul M. Robinson, who received just over $1 million from Medicare in 2013. That's nearly 18 times the average yearly Medicare payment of $58,000 for a general practitioner, Robinson's listed specialty.