Most seniors are in the midst of geting ready to wade through Medicare Open Enrollment Season, but it looks like there’s going to be one more curveball to contend with before year end. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced its payment schedule to doctors for the upcoming year and doctors who serve Medicare patients will be taking a steep cut.
Medicare fees to doctors will be cut by a whopping 23% as of December 1st, and another 1.9% will be cut on January. Although Congress was able to intervene and put into place temporary “doc fixes” which prevented similar cuts to Medicare physician payments last year, it looks like the current cuts are here to stay this time.
What impact will this have on seniors? Unfortunately, the most likely effect is that many doctors may begin turning away Medicare patients and/or severely restricting the number of Medicare patients that they take. Recent cuts in Medicaid payments to doctors have resulted in severed shortages in doctors who will accept Medicaid patients in some areas of the country. Although the new rules include payment incentives for primary care physicians (PCPs) and general surgeons in areas with doctor shortages, unfortunately, some expect a similar result for Medicare.
What can you do? Find out from your doctor whether he or she expects to continue seeing Medicare patients. If not, you might consider starting to shop around for a new physician who will still accept Medicare payments. Even if your doctor is continuing to see Medicare patients, we think it’s a good idea to make sure that you schedule your appointments as far in advance as possible in case he or she starts cutting back on the time they spend with seniors.
How are you making it through Open Enrollment? Tell us about it!
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