Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that many doctors are leaving Medicare. However, according to a new study released by the Department of Health and Human Services, it’s actually getting easier to find doctors who take Medicare.
Doctors have often complained about Medicare’s payment caps and the instability of the reimbursement system that frequently forces cuts each year. Nevertheless, the HHS study illustrates that the number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients has risen and is actually higher than the number of doctors taking new private-insurance patients. USA Today reports, “In 2007, about 925,000 doctors billed Medicare for their services…In 2011, that number had risen to 1.25 million.”
Other key findings include:
- There hasn’t been a significant shift in physicians accepting Medicare patients between 2005 and 2012. In 2005, 87.9% of physicians accepted new Medicare patients, and in 2012 90.7% did so.
- Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care has appeared to be excellent and stable over the past five years, as reported by insured individuals.
This report counters the recent Wall Street Journal article, which reported that the number of doctors opting out of Medicare tripled between 2009 and 2012 – from 3,700 to 9,539. However, data shows that while there may have been a small increase in the number of providers opting out, that has been mitigated by an increase in other physicians accepting Medicare patients.
The overall picture of the study is very clear: There is no shortage of doctors for Medicare patients and it is likely to stay that way.
AARP also reported on this.
Medicare hasn’t approved or endorsed this information.
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