Is Your Doctor Taking Medicare?

Surprisingly, the answer is likely “yes.”  As reimbursement continues to drop for doctors, more doctors are accepting Medicare patients than ever before.  Doctors that don’t take Medicare tend to not take any form of insurance.  A study recently found that 90% of office-based doctors take new Medicare patients.

“The number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients rose by one-third between 2007 and 2011 and is now higher than the number of physicians accepting new private insurance patients, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report obtained by USA TODAY.  In 2007, about 925,000 doctors billed Medicare for their services. In 2011, that number had risen to 1.25 million, according to the report by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation….

However, doctors talk to patients more about insurance as Congress continues to delay the “sustained growth rate” payment system, which could lower rates by 30%. The system is meant to ensure expenses per Medicare beneficiary do not exceed the growth in GDP, but it can be suspended or adjusted by Congress.

That’s really been a political football.  [Doctors] tell their patients, You should call your Congress person because if Congress cuts my reimbursement 30%, I won’t be able to see you.”

USA Today, August 22, 2013

The question for doctors is with the increasing number of obligations required for Medicare patients what changes will your office make to keep up with the growing Medicare population?  Have you looked at efficiencies such as electronic medical records, streamlining billing and practice management functions?

What processes have you put in place to assist with “boomer healthcare?”  Is your office handicap accessible?  Can you get a wheelchair easily in your office?  Are your policies and procedures compliant with HIPAA when other family or friends have to assist in the healthcare of the Medicare patients.  Our US population is getting older every day.  What is your office doing to get ready?

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