Nearly a Third of Doctors Won't See New Medicaid Patients

August 9, 2012

About 69 percent of doctors nationally accept new Medicaid patients, but the rate varies widely across the country, according to a new study published in the journal Health Affairs.

  • New Jersey had the nation's lowest rate at 40 percent.
  • Wyoming had the highest rate, at 99 percent, according to a survey last year of doctors by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For years, some states have struggled to attract doctors to treat patients enrolled in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, largely because of their low pay. New Jersey's reimbursement rate for Medicaid doctors, compared to what Medicare pays, is the lowest in the nation, according to the study.

Access to doctors looms as an important issue in 2014, when under the federal health law, the number of Medicaid patients -- now 60 million -- will increase by as many as 16 million.

  • Study author Sandra Decker, an economist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the impact of the law's two-year pay boost -- intended to entice physicians to accept Medicaid patients -- may be limited because of its short duration.
  • She said she knows of no states that have expanded efforts to recruit Medicaid doctors, although the pay raise is slated to take effect in less than five months.
  • Doctors also cite administrative hassles and delays in getting paid as reasons why they don't accept Medicaid patients, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change.

Source: Phil Galewitz, "Study: Nearly a Third of Doctors Won't See New Medicaid Patients," Kaiser Health News, August 6, 2012.

 

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