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Survey: Most Physicians Aren’t Dropping Medicare and Medicaid Patients

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Earlier this month, Medscape released its “Physician Compensation Report 2016,”, and according to Carol Peckham over at the publication’s website, the report is based on information collected from “nearly 19,200 physicians in over 26 specialties,” who “disclosed not only their compensation, but also how many hours they work per week, how many minutes they spend with each patient, the most rewarding part of their job, changes to their practice resulting from healthcare reform, and more.”

As we work our way through the report, we turn now to the question of Medicare and Medicaid and how physicians are handling these patients in 2016.

Medscape first asked physicians if they’ve seen an influx of new patients because of the Affordable Care Act.

According to Peckham, “Nearly half of PCPs (49 percent) and 30 percent of specialists report having more patients because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

Has this influx influenced their ability to provide quality care? Actually, Peckham writes, a 2015 report “found no association with lower- or higher-quality care whether or not patient load had increased. Among those who said that quality had worsened, 21 percent had a higher patient load and 18 percent saw no increase. Over three quarters (78 percent) of physicians whose number of patients increased said that quality had stayed the same or improved, and 82 percent who experienced no increase reported the same experience.”

The next question Medscape asked was if physicians were dropping Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Surprisingly, the answer was very positive. Eighty-four percent of employed physicians are continuing to accept new Medicare/Medicaid patients, while maintaining their current volume. Seventy-seven percent of self-employed physicians are doing the same.

“In both groups, these percentages are considerably higher than in the 2015 report (79 percent and 64 percent, respectively),” Peckham writes.

Meanwhile, 15 percent of self-employed physicians aren’t accepting new Medicare/Medicaid patients, while only 4 percent of employed physicians are following suit.

The number of physicians who are going to stop accepting current Medicare/Medicaid patients is encouragingly low: 3 percent for self-employed physicians and 1 percent for employed.

“This year, 18 percent of self-employed and only 5 percent of employed physicians have stopped seeing their Medicare and Medicaid patients, which has not changed much from last year (16 percent and 6 percent, respectively),” Peckham reports.

In our next post, we’ll look at the percentage of physicians who are dropping insurers that pay poorly, and we’ll also check in on where physician participation in the health insurance exchanges stands.

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