Right now it’s first and foremost a Medicaid problem:
Although 96 percent of physicians accepted new patients in 2011, rates varied by payment source: 31 percent of physicians were unwilling to accept any new Medicaid patients; 17 percent would not accept new Medicare patients; and 18 percent of physicians would not accept new privately insured patients.
This problem is not new:
Sergey Sargsyan has lost 80 pounds since his symptoms began more than three months ago. He’s in pain and getting weaker.
Emergency room visits and surgery to remove gallstones have done little to help. Doctors say he needs a specialist to fine-tune his diagnosis.
But finding one willing to accept Medicaid as payment has been an exercise in futility, said Susanna McPhilomy, the 77-year-old’s daughter. “The first question isn’t, ‘How can we help you?’ ” she said, “but, ‘What type of insurance do you have?’ “
New York Times, “Cuts Leave Patients With Medicaid Cards, but No Specialist to See”:
Eight-year-old Draven Smith was expelled from school last year for disruptive behavior, and he is being expelled again this year. But his mother and his pediatrician cannot find a mental health specialist to treat him because he is on Medicaid, and the program, which provides health coverage for the poor, pays doctors so little that many refuse to take its patients.
With reimbursements being constantly reduced, this is not particularly surprising.
It’s starting to become a Medicare problem, too. (Medicaid is a welfare program for the indigent. Medicare is a program for elderly people of all incomes.)
Doctors threaten Medicare backlash: “With a 21% cut to Medicare reimbursement rates set to take effect Monday, the nation’s largest physician organization has informed its members about their options — which include shutting off practices to new Medicare patients.”
Doctors: Cuts may force us to turn away Medicare patients: “What’s going to happen is that doctors won’t be able to see new Medicare patients. Even more than that you won’t be able to see any Medicare patients because they just can’t afford to do that.”
Congressman’s claim about Medicare mostly rings true: “[N]early one in three primary care doctors are forced to limit the number of Medicare patients they see.”
Doctors who take Medicare scarce: “ABC11 assembled a team of volunteers with the help of the AARP to be “secret shoppers” looking for a new doctor. We discovered it can be very difficult for Triangle transplants and people aging up into Medicare eligibility to find one.”
Twitter has noticed the problem:
This problem is only going to get worse. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is funded in large part by deep cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals, and other health-care providers.