Professional News
Reimbursement Concerns Don't Deter M.D.s From Taking Medicare Patients
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 17 page 14-14

Physicians' acceptance of new patients with Medicare coverage has decreased minimally in recent years despite alarms about how low reimbursements could cause physicians to halt their participation in the program.

Abstract Teaser

More physicians may be accepting patients with Medicare than recent reports have suggested, according to a study in the June 27 Archives of Internal Medicine. In fact, analysis of the percentage of doctors accepting new patients with a variety of health care coverages from 2005 through 2008 revealed a steeper drop in the acceptance by physicians of new patients who have private noncapitated insurance.

The researchers used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which is administered annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. The survey's findings are based on a sample of visits to office-based physicians. Anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists, and hospital-based physicians are excluded from the survey.

Year-to-year data comparisons were made for the percentage of physicians accepting new patients with Medicare, Medicaid, and private capitated and noncapitated insurance, as well as self-pay patients.

The survey found that the percentage of physicians accepting new Medicare patients over the study's four-year span decreased by less than 3 percent, from 95.5 percent to 92.9 percent. The researchers attributed this drop largely to decisions by private-practice physicians. They also acknowledged that while the percentage of physicians accepting new Medicare patients has dipped only slightly, the findings do not take into consideration how many new Medicare patients are being accepted into a particular practice each year.

Physicians' acceptance of new Medicaid and privately insured patients started out at a lower percentage than the acceptance of those with other forms of coverage, but still experienced a decline.

New patients with noncapitated insurance experienced a drop of more than 5 percent in acceptance for care by physicians, a change influenced by a decrease in the number of adult primary care physicians accepting new patients with this type of coverage. 14.inline-graphic-1.gif

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