Medicare Answers: Are Fewer Doctors Accepting Medicare?

  • Originally published September 17, 2013 , last updated December 23, 2014
  • Medicare
Medicare Answers: Are Fewer Doctors Accepting Medicare?

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Jason asks:

With Medicare always lowering doctors’ reimbursements, is it going to be harder for my clients to find a doctor who accepts Medicare?

Jason,

You have been listening to the so-called experts again. Those experts want radical changes in Medicare. They often allege that the program is heading for disaster because stingy payments from the government are causing more doctors to refuse serving Medicare patients.

Experts at the Department of Health and Human Services have evidence in a new analysis to eliminate that misperception once and for all.

From an August 2013 article in The New York Times:

“The analysts looked at seven years of federal survey data and found that doctors are not fleeing Medicare in droves; in fact, the percentage of doctors accepting new Medicare patients actually rose to 90.7 percent in 2012 from 87.9 percent in 2005. They are not shunning Medicare patients for better-paying private patients, either; the percentage of doctors accepting new Medicare patients in recent years was slightly higher than the percentage accepting new privately insured patients.”

This study proves that 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.

It is true that around 9,500 practicing doctors have currently opted out of Medicare, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But that’s a small number when compared to the number of doctors remaining in Medicare — 735,000.