Doctor Shortage Problem Increasing In Rural Areas
Nine years ago, people living in rural areas had no trouble getting a doctor to see Medicare beneficiaries. However, finding a doctor willing to accept Medicare is getting harder.
Usually, we want to retire in a place where we can really relax and enjoy our remaining years. Rural areas provide the perfect retirement location. However, one problem that some people are facing is difficulty in finding a doctor.
Many doctors want to practice in urban areas since that offers bigger opportunities for more patients and more income. It may also provide better job and school opportunities for their family members.
Another contributing factor is that Medicare pays rural doctors lower fees than those paid to doctors practicing in urban areas. According to Medicare officials, rural doctors are paid less because their operating costs are assumed to be less. And, this could lead to fewer doctors accepting Medicare patients.
In addition, the health care reform law includes cuts in Medicare payments to health care providers in order to decrease the federal budget deficit. The health care reform law will aggravate the problem of doctor shortages according to Mark Pauly, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
However, despite this looming problem on doctor shortage there’s still hope for Medicare patients. According to Pauly, there are still other mandates in the health care reform law that can benefit seniors. For example, the wellness programs allow other health care providers, such as nurses, to play a role in taking care of consumers. Increasing their role and reimbursements to nurse practitioners can possibly fill in the doctor shortage gap. With the expected influx of millions of baby boomers seeking health care coverage in the coming years, every help that government employees can use will really be a relief to seniors and younger Medicare beneficiaries.