Georgia Docs Leave Medicare

Medicare. Don't leave home without it. But finding a Georgia doctor to treat you might be a real challenge. The problem?

Medicare pays docs less than private insurance, less than private pay (those who do not have health insurance). Only Medicaid pays less than Medicare which means those on Medicaid and Medicare, dual eligibles, are in real trouble.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting how some Georgia doctors are going to just say no to Medicare patients.

The instability of the system has already prompted some doctors to leave Medicare and has more thinking about it, just as the first wave of the gigantic baby boom generation begins to engulf the program. Without a fix, experts said, more elderly Americans will have a hard time getting an appointment with the doctor of their choice.

"Medicare is a mess right now," said Dr. Tom Bat, who practices with a group of physicians at North Atlanta Primary Care.

It is bad now and only going to get worse going forward.

Make no mistake, future cuts in Medicare will be made in order to fund Obamacare. Seniors will be sacrificed on the altar of budget cuts in order to provide health insurance for others.

Under any other name, this is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Medicare pays about 80 percent of what private insurance pays, according to government reports. Currently, physicians in Atlanta get $67 for a typical office visit for a Medicare patient.

While Medicare payments for doctors have remained nearly flat for the past decade, the cost of running a medical practice has gone up by more than 20 percent, according to estimates by the American Medical Association.

This is a real problem that isn't going away.

"Rather than fixing it, the politicians just postpone the problem and each time that they do that, there is more uncertainly for the physicians and other providers," said Dr. Harry S. Strothers III, president of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians

Strothers said it's common after speaking engagements for people to approach him seeking help finding a doctor, including several just last week. "Two had just retired and found out the doctor they have been seeing for years didn't take Medicare," he said.

My mother in law had the same issue 15 years ago, so this is not a new problem.

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