That doctor is not alone, however. An increasing number of doctors are opting out of the Medicare system, including many of the specialists, internists, and integrative physicians who handle thyroid, hormonal, fatigue, and immune system problems. In fact, many of these doctors don't accept Medicare, and also do not participate in any private insurance programs at all. Their patients need to pay out of pocket, up front, and file themselves to get whatever reimbursement is available under their coverage.
Why are more doctors opting out of Medicare and insurance programs? There are a number of reasons.
- Medicare regularly cuts the rates of reimbursement, which means doctors earn less for office visits and various procedures
- There is a longer delay than ever before for doctors to get reimbursements from Medicare
- Medicare has a very convoluted, bureacratic process that allows some tests and treatments, refuses to pay for others, and limits how a doctor can practice medicine
- Private insurers set low reimbursement rates for various services and treatments, rates that may not even cover a doctor's overhead.
- Insurers often systematically make reimbursement deliberately difficult, complicated and time-consuming.
- When reimbursement is approved, payments from insurers can be extremely slow to reach the physician.
- Doctors may need additional staff to handle the extra paperwork, phone calls, resubmissions, and negotiation with insurance companies.
As for doctors who will accept your insurance, most insurers will provide you with a directory of participating physicians, and may even assist you in getting an appointment or signing up as a new patient.
Learn More About Medicare and Insurance Issues, and Why Doctors Are Opting Out
- Overview of Medicare -- About.com Health Insurance
- Medicare Benefits FAQ: What Is Medicare, and How Does It Work? -- About.com Senior Living
- Why Don't Some Doctors or Healthcare Facilities Accept My Insurance? -- About.com Patient Empowerment
- Doctors Are Opting Out of Medicare -- New York Times
- Ditched by your doctor - blame Medicare -- CNN
- When Doctors Opt Out -- Wall Street Journal
- Doctors Who Don't Take Insurance: What Does It Mean for Patients? -- The Health Care Blog
- Local doctors are opting out of insurance-based medicine -- Ventura County Star