2009 Access to Care Survey

posted 3/22/2010

Of 518 physicians responding to our 2009 survey on access to care, 4% reported being not enrolled in Medicare; 21%, opted out; 59%, participating; and 10%, nonparticipating. Of the opted-out physicians, 57% will make an appointment for a new Medicare-eligible beneficiary within a week, and 71% within a month, not much different from those who are “in” Medicare (45% and 73%, respectively). About 19% of opted-out and 10% of par/non-par physicians do not see new Medicare-eligible patients. New non-Medicare patients have slightly better access to Medicare doctors: 52% can get an appointment within a week, 86% within a month, and only 2% not at all. Established patients get only slightly prompter service in all categories.

Comments were received from 189 respondents. All the remarks on opting out were favorable. For example: “It is such a feeling of relief.” “Cancelling my Medicare and Medicaid numbers 10 years ago was the best move I ever made.” “Thank you for helping me opt out. I do not make much income but am able to spend adequate time with patients.” “I opted out and now see more than 65 [allergy] patients for cash. They are happy and I am happy.” “Since I opted out I have more work than I can handle…. Only one patient left my care… My collection rate is 96%.” “Since I opted out of Medicare 8 years ago, the number of Medicare beneficiaries in my practice has increased, [although] one-third of patients who call decide not to see me because of financial concerns.” “ I sleep better already!”

None reported being happy with Medicare. “I am quitting at age 40.” “Medicare clerks drove me crazy.”

Full results are below: