Nearly 90% of physicians accept new Medicare patients, a percentage that has held steady for the last several years, according to an analysis released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2012, 90.7% of physicians were accepting new Medicare patients, compared with 87.9% in 2005. The HHS report, released Aug. 22, relies on data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a nationally representative survey of office-based medical doctors and osteopaths. It excludes radiologists, anesthesiologists, and pathologists. As of 2011, about 650,000 physicians were participating in the Medicare program.
The figures reported by the HHS are similar to the percentage of physicians who were accepting private health insurance between 2005 and 2012. However, preliminary data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey suggests that between 2011 and 2012, the percentage of doctors seeing new Medicare patients was slightly higher than the percentage accepting new privately-insured patients.
Medicare officials said the report confirms that physician participation in the Medicare program remains strong despite reports that a growing number of physicians are choosing to opt out. As a percentage of the total physicians participating in Medicare, those opting out represent only about 1% each year and are greatly outpaced by physicians choosing to participate in the program, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
On Twitter @MaryEllenNY