This information is to follow-up further information shared last Sunday. What follows is as unsettling to me (I am a Medicare Provider) as it is to the reader-audience. The evidence is obvious when you consider the facts. Anyone who is a Medicare patient need only look around to know the truth.
Medicare patient access to doctors is getting harder to come by. America has been telegraphed this outcome but no one really wanted/wants to face the music, especially the doctors. Recall when President Obama announced PPACA? During the announcement he told America he wasn’t going to touch Medicare. Literally the next statement he made following this comment was that he was going to save (code word for take) 740 billion dollars from Medicare over the next 10 years. Underfunded and over-regulated, it appears the program is well on its way out.
Does anyone see any doctors providing Medicaid? Medicaid is where policy is taking Medicare. Medicaid exists but no one knows where exactly (there are some limited access points for Medicaid but rare to find and access). The concept is very similar to taxing that super-rich person who none of us actually knows but supposedly is personally responsible for any and all of our personal financial hardships.
Evidence supporting the extinguishing of Private Medicine and Particularly Medicare Participation and Access
- For the past 12 years Medicare payment for physician services has been frozen in time while the cost of doing business in medicine has greatly increased.
- The frozen Medicare payment schedule is the one indexed by all other insurance companies-payment is squeezed and not differentiating for excellent, average or little care and service.
- In the past 10 years, private practice doctors have gone from 82% to under 28% (the largest shift has occurred with Obamacare and the money shift out of Medicare to help fund it).
- In 2012 (last documented year) the number of doctors quitting Medicare outright tripled in one year- just under 10,000 nationwide.
- As of 2008 only 58% of doctors are willing to accept new Medicare patients.
- A 2010 survey by the AMA found 85% of doctors capped their Medicare client numbers.
- The necessity of and growing market for Medicare Hybrid and Concierge Medical Practices
- A recent IPALC/Local doctors’ survey indicated one half of the doctors are contemplating quitting Medicare. Without the Medicare subsidies 38% of doctors said they would not have viable practices! The subsidies are ending in the next 2 years, making this a predictable and likely event in the very near future.
- Doctors are shifting to hospital ownership only because the hospitals can subsidize their salaries through price-favoritism by Medicare. Many do this knowing they are giving up their autonomy to practice and ability to refer their patients to whom and where they might otherwise.
- With any policy change current incentives for physician employment can be wiped out of the program, exposing the immediacy of the problem.
- Durable medical equipment suppliers including Costco have stopped providing diabetic testing supplies due to price-controls combined with regulatory/paperwork requirements and payment denials. Having private non-doctor businesses quitting the program’s services speaks volumes. Prior shoe suppliers have also stopped Medicare contracting.
- Nearly all Medicare patients in Fort Myers are being seen by extenders/non-physicians including: primary care, specialist care, emergency room care and even hospital specialists’ consultative care. This activity demonstrates that doctors are already effectively “quitting” Medicare.
- Our local hospital system- Lee Memorial Health’s hired doctor gynecologists no longer accept Medicare and haven’t for at least 2 years.
- In October, doctors are being forced into a new coding system called ICD 10 that will add at least 100,000 more codes for diagnosis and billing purposes. This will result in predictable and a large number of claim denials. Conservative predictions are for 15% reduced patient efficiency due to charting requirements and 25% claims denials due to coding and charting errors. Proper accounting may never get sorted out, placing private practice business at major risk due to insolvency.
- For the past 7 or so years the government sequestration has also caused Medicare physician payments to be discounted 2%. (So Medicare pays the physician 2% less than the Medicare set fee.)
- PPACA/Obamacare promised to take 740 billion bucks from the Medicare program over 10 years, we are only about halfway there. More price cuts are coming, we just don’t see it yet.
I think citizens should request the opportunity to have an annual payment or voucher option to get their Medicare money back and placed into their hands. Beneficiaries should get the money they paid-in back before it is all squandered away. People can then have some control regarding getting health care services. Either way if people are going to want to access a doctor’s office they will have to pay out of pocket to get it. We are very much on our way to another Canada or England. Stand in line, die if you can’t get through the morass and pay a lot to access the private physicians in the system. I suggest we demand our freedom to engage the health care market back. The simple solution for starters is to demand the government stop setting prices. The government’s position often overpays for some services and grossly underpays for others. If the Medicare system re-allowed balanced billing the most possible access will quickly come into play at the best average cost to the consumer. Staying on this path is going to get a lot more painful for all parties involved.
Please read the following websites for more information. It will be an eye-opener.
Institute for Healthcare Consumerism
National Policy Analysis www.nationalcenter.org/NPA640.html