The federal government has released a massive trove of Medicare data, making available for the first time information about what payments individual doctors received for specific services covered by Medicare in 2012. The data cover more than 880,000 health care providers and $77 billion in payments from Medicare Part B.

The data can show how much money a particular doctor received by billing Medicare, as well as how many times each doctor billed the program for performing specific procedures or services. It can also show the extent to which federal Medicare spending is concentrated among a relatively small number of health care providers.

A searchable version of the database is available here.

To find all the data in raw form, click here.

But before you do, it’s worth reading this helpful guide from ProPublica health care reporter Charles Ornstein, on how the data can be useful to patients — and how it can be misleading.

To learn more about what went into getting the data released, click here.

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Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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