As payments go up and rules become more stringent, more and more doctors are refusing to see Medicare patients. Last year alone, the number of doctors opting out of Medicare tripled from three years earlier; of those numbers not eliminating Medicare completely, a large percentage are at least limiting the number of Medicare patients they’ll see.
The Medicare participation rate has decreased so dramatically, in fact, that the president of Medicare, Joe Baker, is actually receiving calls from seniors bemoaning that they can’t find a doctor who will treat them. Many experts believe this may have to do with the fact that not only are Medicare payments failing to keep up with inflation, but there are threats of Medicare reimbursements being slashed even more – by as much as 25% – in 2014. Already, many physicians are forced to see 30 or more patients a day just to make ends meet. If the cuts continue, it won’t be feasibly possible for these small to medium sized offices to stay in business.
However, despite what many might think, a large part of the problem isn’t necessarily that physicians are afraid of not getting paid, but that they’re afraid of not being able to provide their patients with the treatment they need on the low budgets they’re being forced to work within. By working with Medicare, they’re unable to afford the equipment, tools and materials they need and still operate under full capacity. However, by extricating with Medicare, they can go back to practicing medicine based on what the patients need, and not what the insurers will pay.
To see how you might be affected by the changes in Medicare, check out http://www.dr-solutions.com/doctors-steer-clear-of-medicare/.
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.