Why Doesn't My Doctor Take Medicare?
Not every doctor takes Medicare. The federal government does not force doctors or hospitals to take any particular type of insurance, although most hospitals will accept government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The announcement of declining reimbursements caused many doctors to opt out of the program for their offices. Patients found themselves forced to switch doctors, pay out-of-pocket or pay for doctor's visits with a different insurance program. The reduced compensations amounts were designed to correct billions of dollars in over payments made to doctors. However, there are other reasons a doctor may choose not to take Medicare.
Medicare Provides a Paperwork Nightmare
To be fair, Medicare is no worse than any other insurance company with the forms it makes people fill out. The goal of the government agency is often to make sure the forms are filled out correctly and delay the process until another insurance company takes care of the issue. Private insurance companies often seem to have the goal of stalling to see how much money a patient will pay before they have to kick items in. Adding to this bureaucracy are the large, complicated hospital procedures. Doctors offices prefer to deal with as little of this as possible. Nurses and staff are already required by law to do a lot of paperwork.
Doctors sometimes do not take Medicare because they do not make money on it. Although it would be nice if doctors could ply their trade without the need to make a living, our society does not yet support that. Medical doctors are usually paid well, but they also put long and hard hours into their work. When the cost of education gets added in to the mix, it is no surprise costs of medical care are as high as they are. A doctor who takes Medicare patients needs to make up the costs on volume. Fortunately, many doctors are willing to do this.