Current Weather
The Spy FM

Study: Doctors More Likely To Drop Private Insurance Than Medicare

Filed by KOSU News in Health.
June 27, 2011

There’s a lot of chatter about how public policy can influence doctors’ decisions about which new patients to see and which to turn away.

One big question: Does the squeeze on Medicare that has limited the program’s pay increases to doctors lead them to see fewer of those patients?

Some researchers decided to look at recent data for clues. And they found a slight drop — a little less than 3 percent in the proportion of doctors taking new Medicare patients between 2005 and 2008.

But that drop, which still left 93 percent of docs taking new Medicare patients, wasn’t much compared with the hit for patients with typical private insurance.

For those people, there was a 5.5 percentage point drop, leaving about 88 percent of physicians who would add them as new patients.

The greater decline in doctors accepting private insurance was “unexpected,” the researchers write in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, where the findings appear.

What’s going on? I asked lead author Dr. Tara Bishop, an internist and assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. She said there are a couple of possible reasons. Some doctors may be bucking the administrative hassles of private insurance, she said.

Medicare may not always pay top dollar, but it’s pretty reliable. And, she said, Medicare is still the largest payer, so it’s hard for doctors not to accept those patients.

For her part, Bishop sees patients with all kinds of insurance. But she said the findings are worrisome. “If these trends continue we may have problems getting care to patients in the ambulatory setting,” she said. “It’s possible patients might have health insurance but not be able to see a doctor.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

2PM to 3PM PRI's The World

PRI's The World

Get a fresh perspective of people, events and trends that shape our world. Host Lisa Mullins covers a wide range of topics, including science, business, technology, sports, art and music.

Listen Live Now!

3PM to 6PM All Things Considered

All Things Considered

For two hours every weekday, All Things Considered hosts Robert Siegel, Michele Norris and Melissa Block present the program's trademark mix of news, interviews, commentaries, reviews, and offbeat features.

View the program guide!

6PM to 6:30PM Marketplace


Hosted by Kai Ryssdal, award-winning Marketplace is public radio's daily magazine of business and economics.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center