Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fwd: qotd: Conclusive evidence that physicians are not leaving Medicare

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: qotd: Conclusive evidence that physicians are not leaving Medicare
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 11:47:40 -0800
From: Don McCanne <>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <>

Kaiser Family Foundation
December 10, 2013
Medicare Patients' Access to Physicians: A Synthesis of the Evidence
By Cristina Boccuti, Christina Swoope, Anthony Damico and Patricia Neuman

Main findings:

* On a national level, Medicare patients have good access to
physicians. The vast majority (96%) of Medicare beneficiaries report
having a usual source of care, primarily a doctor's office or doctor's

* Most people with Medicare — about 90 percent — are able to schedule
timely appointments for routine and specialty care. Medicare seniors are
more likely than privately insured adults age 50-64 to report "never"
having to wait longer than they want for timely routine care appointments.

* A small share of Medicare beneficiaries say they looked for a new
physician in the past year, and only 2 percent of seniors with Medicare
report problems finding one when needed — comparable to rates reported
by privately insured adults age 50-64.

* Medicare seniors report foregoing medical care at similar or lower
rates than privately insured adults age 50-64. Certain subgroups of the
Medicare population are more likely than others to report not seeing a
doctor when they thought they needed to during the year, particularly
beneficiaries who: are under age 65 and qualify for Medicare because of
a permanent disability; have either Medicaid (dually eligible for
Medicare and Medicaid) or no supplemental coverage; are Black; have
lower incomes; are in fair or poor health, and/or have five or more
chronic conditions. Even within these vulnerable subgroups, however,
the majority do not report foregoing doctor visits when needed.

* According to recently-released physician survey data, the majority
(91%) of non-pediatric physicians accept new Medicare patients — the
same rate that accept new patients with private non-capitated insurance.
This correlation persists generally across states, indicating that
physician acceptance of new Medicare patients may be more related to
local market factors than issues unique to Medicare overall.

* According to new physician data from Medicare, less than 1 percent of
physicians in clinical practice have formally "opted-out" of the
Medicare program, with psychiatrists accounting for the largest share (42%).

These findings show that according to national patient and physician
surveys and other data sources, most Medicare beneficiaries enjoy good
access to physician services, comparable to the experiences of privately
insured patients. Most physicians accept new Medicare patients, and
relatively few have formally opted out of the Medicare program.

Comment: This comprehensive report lays to rest once and for all the
the rumor that physicians are leaving Medicare in droves. Most
physicians accept new Medicare patients, and less than 1 percent have
formally opted-out of the Medicare program.

An improved Medicare would be even more attractive to physicians,
especially if it covered everyone. It would dramatically reduce hassles
with intrusive third party payers so that physicians could spend most of
their time doing what they devoted their lives to - taking care of their

As far as the threat that physicians would quit if we enacted an
improved Medicare for all, first of all, very few would leave - likely
less than 1 percent - and, second, since most of those who would leave
seem to be more interested in money rather than patients (think
concierge), we really don't want them around anyway. It would be a great
way to clean up our profession.

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