Is the Number of Doctors participating in Medicare falling?

Is the number of doctors participating in Medicare falling because of stingy government reimbursement rates? Is it possible that baby boomers may find “their current doctors are no longer willing to treat them under Medicare and that other doctors are turning them down as well?”. This is a subject of the recent New York Times article (Aug. 31, 2013). The main results of the survey are provided below. For more details, review the original article Doctors and Their Medicare Patients.

Analysis based on seven years of federal survey data found that:

  • The percentage of doctors accepting new Medicare patients actually rose to 90.7 percent in 2012 from 87.9 percent in 2005.
  • The percentage of doctors accepting new Medicare patients in recent years was slightly higher than the percentage accepting new privately insured patients.
  • 77 percent of the Medicare patients said they never had an unreasonably long wait for a routine doctor’s appointment last year. The corresponding number of privately insured patients age 50 to 64 is 72 percent.
  • Roughly 9,500 practicing doctors have currently opted out of Medicare (compare with 3,700 in 1997). This number is still tiny compared with the number of doctors, 735,000, who remain in Medicare.

The overall picture, according to the article, is clear:

“Nationwide there is no shortage of doctors for Medicare patients. It is likely to stay that way, because Medicare is a big insurer that few medical practices can afford to ignore.”

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