More than 90% of office-based docs accepting new Medicare patients

The total number of providers participating in Medicare has steadily increased since 2007, and the percentage of office-based physicians accepting new Medicare patients is now slightly higher than the percentage accepting new privately insured patients, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

The report also showed access to care for Medicare beneficiaries remains high as the provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect.

To assess trends in provider acceptance of Medicare, HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) used an analysis of seven years of federal survey data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. This survey of office-based MDs and DOs is nationally representative, but excludes radiologists, anesthesiologists and pathologists.

Survey data revealed the percentage of office-based physicians accepting new Medicare patients has not changed significantly in recent years, going from 87.9 percent in 2005 to 90.7 percent in 2012. A slight dip in the percentage accepting new private insurance patients put the percentage of physicians accepting new Medicare patients higher than those accepting new privately insured patients as of 2011.

CMS data pegged the number of physicians participating in Medicare in 2011 at 650,000, with nearly 1 million participating providers in total.

A separate survey of 4,000 Medicare beneficiaries and 4,000 privately insured individuals age 50-64 conducted by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission revealed that access to care has been high and relatively stable for Medicare beneficiaries over the past five years. In 2012, 77 percent of Medicare beneficiaries reported they never experienced an unwanted delay in getting an appointment for routine care.

The ASPE issue brief stated that “based on multiple data sources, Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care appears to be excellent: it has been stable over the past five years and is comparable to or better than access reported by privately insured individuals.”

The full report can be read here.