I recently read an article that confirmed what I already knew, many doctors are making tons of money off of self referred work. An evaluation of a Urological Group revealed that the medical group had increased the number of CT Scans by over 700% for it patients after it bought its own CT Scanner. The article said that there were numerous other studies that showed that physicians that own scanners order more tests for their patients than those who do not.
With the debate over healthcare reform, studies like these are surfacing to show the increasing healthcare costs of unnecessary tests and procedures. The funny thing is that all I seem to have heard over the news are medical self interest groups blaming the attorneys for these increased costs, tests they deem necessary to cover their backsides. Doctors are not allowed to write prescriptions and then sell medications. Many say that they should not profit from imaging. I am inclined to agree. While the physician that owns his own scanner may be able to get that study done faster for you than referring you to a private group or hospital, one has to question the motivation. After all, the physician or practice group has to pay for the device and pay the operator of the machine. No one is in business to break even, and as this article indicates, this aspect of a physicians practice alone can make up a significant part of his income.