Although physicians have threatened to stop treating Medicare beneficiaries, such patients have less trouble finding physicians and scheduling appointments than individuals with private insurance, according to a new Medicare Payment Advisory Commission survey, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/2).
For its annual survey of access to physician services, MedPAC polled a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries and private insurance holders ages 50 to 64.
According to the results, 79% of Medicare beneficiaries said they had no problem finding a new physician, compared with 69% of the privately insured.
Meanwhile, fewer Medicare beneficiaries (12%) said they had difficulty finding a new physician than respondents with private coverage (19%).
The survey also showed that 75% of Medicare beneficiaries said they had no problem scheduling a routine appointment and that 83% said they always had the opportunity to see a physician for an illness or injury, compared with 72% and 80% of survey respondents with private coverage, respectively.
NPR's "Shots" notes that anecdotal complaints regarding Medicare beneficiaries' access to care might be contributing to the notion that the problem is worsening (Rovner, "Shots," NPR, 12/3).
Waxman Praises Study
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) called the results "a tribute to the professionalism of America's physicians," adding that physicians "continue to see to the needs of their Medicare patients despite their justifiable frustration with Congress' inability to stabilize the physician payment system" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/2).