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Physicians More Willing to See Medicare Patients than the Privately Insured

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that doctors were less willing to treat privately insured patients than Medicare beneficiaries.

In 2008, 88% of physicians were willing to accept privately insured patients, down from 93% in 2005. In contrast, 93% of physicians were willing to accept Medicare patients, down from 96% in 2005. Medicaid beneficiaries had the most difficulty finding a physician willing to accept their coverage.

Tara Bishop, the lead author and an assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College, said that while private insurance might pay more than Medicare, the latter could be a more reliable payer with fewer administrative hoops to jump through. “At a moment when the country is poised to achieve near-universal coverage, patients’ access to care could be a casualty of the collision between the medical profession and the insurance industry.”

The study, as well as a Bloomberg report, are both available online.

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