29 December 2010

Is Medicare Going to Remain Viable?

This is starting to bother me in so many undefined ways. I must ask some questions. Has your doctor started to spread out your appointments? Is your doctor only seeing you once a year. Have you wondered why? Or has you doctor said you won't be rescheduled?

If you have read a few of my earlier blogs, you might have an idea. Yes, now I can say based on my own experience that our government is slowly making Medicare a problem and leaving its senior citizens to wander aimlessly without medical help. Many will have too much income to qualify for Medicaid and with Medicare decreasing the reimbursement to doctors, many of us senior citizens will not have a doctor to see in a year or two. And in these economic times, many states are having trouble meeting their expenses for Medicaid.

My primary care doctor is reducing my visits, as is my endocrinologist, and heart doctor. Some of the doctors I do not need to see but occasionally, which is fine by me. However, when a doctor says s/he is reducing the number of visits by one fourth, one third, or a half, you do need to be concerned.

Some doctors are putting signs up that they will no longer see Medicare patients. I have only seen one of these in a city about two hour's distance. I have talked to friends and acquaintances that are being turned away by doctors. Some are just starting Medicare on January first and they are being told that they must find another doctor because at December 31, they will no longer be served by the current office.

A few doctors are posting signs that they will take no new Medicare patients, but will work with those they have presently. How far this goes is going to depend on the new congress and what is funded or unfunded in the Affordable Care Act. A larger factor is going to be how the rules and regulations are handed down about the Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

This is going to be very interesting as this is mandated, but not precisely defined by the law. ACOs are to be affiliations of health care providers that are held jointly accountable for achieving improvements in quality of care with reductions in spending. The ideas that have been bouncing around are varied. Some will be cumbersome, while others will create legal headaches. This may be a topic for a future blog.

Prior blogs of mine that are related in nature - blog 1, blog 2, blog 3.

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