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Monday, January 09, 2006

Cuts In Medicare, Cuts In Docs?

A new study says that the percentage of physicians seeing Medicare patients has actually increased over the past four years. This despite cries from physicians that drops in reimbursements by Medicare would cut the number of physicians seeing those patients.

There are less dramatic ways, I figure, that most doctors are using to limit the hit they take from poor Medicare payments: limiting the number of Medicare patients, performing MORE tests per patient, and especially limiting the types of Medicare patients and the types of procedures you'll do for patients covered by Medicare.

Very time consuming, chronically ill Medicare patients are probably not worth cost and labor associated with them. They can be referred to other physicians or to academic and community care opportunities. The same goes for now 'simple' specialist procedures. Say an ophthalmologist performing cataract surgery may want to limit the number he's does per year on Medicare patients and refer the rest...or all of them.

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