Blog | Monday, August 26, 2013

QD: News Every Day--9 out of 10 doctors accept Medicare, a rate that remains steady

Office-based doctors have steadily continued to accept Medicare patients in recent years, at a rate of about nine out of 10, the Department of Health and Human Services reported.

According to federal survey data, the percentage of all office-based physicians who report accepting new Medicare patients has not changed significantly between 2005 and 2012, with 87.9% of physicians accepting new Medicare patients in 2005 and 90.7% in 2012.

The National Center for Health Statistics analyzed seven years of federal survey data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to draw its conclusions, which it reported online.

About 650,000 physicians participated in Medicare in 2011 and nearly 1 million clinicians did. A possible increase in the number of providers opting out was offset by an increase in the share of other physicians who accept new Medicare patients, the agency reported.

Compared to the number of physicians who accept new patients with private insurance, the percentage of physicians accepting new Medicare patients for most of 2005 through 2012. And, the percentage accepting new Medicare patients may have increased slightly in 2011-12 while the percentage accepting new privately insured patients may have decreased slightly.

More than three-quarters of Medicare beneficiaries reported no delays in getting care, the report continued. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency that advises Congress, conducted an annual survey of 4,000 Medicare beneficiaries and 4,000 privately insured individuals age 50-64. In 2012, 77% of Medicare beneficiaries reported they never experienced an unwanted delay in getting an appointment for routine care, compared with 76% in 2008. These rates were comparable to people with private insurance. The large majority of beneficiaries had no problems getting an appointment with a new physician, the report stated, and Medicare beneficiaries were less likely than the privately insured to report forgoing needed medical care (8% vs. 11%) in 2012.