Physicians Considering Whether to Opt-Out of Medicare

Asked if they have any plans to opt-out of accepting Medicare patients, a recent informal online survey of NCMS members found that 51.6% of respondents said “maybe,” while 11% said yes, and 37.4% said no. Many who took the survey declined to answer that specific question; however, nearly all of the respondents did answer the following questions:   
                                                                                                                Yes          No

Do you currently see Medicare Patients?                                 96.7%       3.3%

Do you currently accept any new Medicare patients?        74.4%      25.6%

Have you discontinued care of Medicare patients?              5.6%       94.4%

Many respondents commented about Medicare. Some examples:

“We cannot continue to provide high quality, timely care for lower and lower costs. Medicare’s administrative burdens are becoming unduly complex and costly.”

“Rural practices basically have no choice but to accept federal patients.”

“SGR, if not repealed, will force a change in providing care to Medicare patients.”

“I work in the ED and can’t stop seeing them.”

The NCMS frequently surveys members about important issues affecting doctors and their patients. We urge you to participate so that we can gain a better understanding of how current issues affect you, your patients and your practice.


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  • Mark LaFave MD

    I have to laugh. The cuts we have already endured(cuts to our most commonly used codes, bundling codes, global fees, black box edits etc…) have already made seeing Medicare patients at best a break even proposition to private physicians. It is not whether we want to continue seeing medicare(decent hard working folks who deserve our care), but whether we can financially keep our doors open given the up coming health care reform and threatened SGR cuts!!!! The docs who say they will continue to see these patients unrestricted are either academic or employed. The rest of us have to pay our employees/taxes/malpractice!!!

  • I believe we should educate the public about what has REALLY occurred to all those health care dollars over the past 25 years:
    there are 3 thieves….1) pharmacuetical companies (the cost of various meds used in our office to help initiate treatment to patients, such as prednisolone acetate 1% eyedrops, has risen nearly by 10,000% since 1985 to 2010…$0.79 in ’85 to $75.00 in ’10!), (and can anyone explain why those drug reps make more money than our country’s Family Docs, Internists, Pediatricians, and various other specialties??; 2)medical device companies (titanium screws get $10,000 a piece, while an orthopedist who puts in 6 of these (ie. $60,000-worth) to fix a shattered ankle will only get about $800, and that is supposed to cover all the costs of post-ops for 90 days!; 3) health insurance administrators (Week after week, I see how the amount the patient pays (for copay plus deductible/ co-insur.) is greater than the amount paid by the insurance company. And how about those Christmas-time bonuses in the hundreds-of-millions of dollars paid to the CEO’s???) AND the public needs to be made aware of the HUGE decrease in pay physicians have already taken over the past 25 years. The pay cuts have added up to an approximately 95% cut in pay over the past 25 years! Yet much of the public is clueless about these cuts! It is time we educate them about the truth.