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More Physicians Refusing To Accept Patients Even With Health Insurance

June 29, 2011 by  

More Physicians Refusing To Accept Patients Even With Health Insurance

The doctor won’t see you now: Doctors are so unhappy with private health insurers that an increasing number of them won’t accept new patients, even if they have health insurance. As a result, the healthcare reform law may not work as advertised. Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 means millions more people will have health insurance, recent research suggests that these newly insured people may still be unable to access healthcare.

A new study reported in the June 27th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine shows that, since 2005, doctors have been accepting fewer patients with health insurance. Dr. Tara Bishop, assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College and lead author of the study, said the results suggest insured patients could face new obstacles to receiving medical attention, and overall access to healthcare could actually diminish.

“Given the medical profession’s widely reported dissatisfaction with Medicare, we expected to find hard evidence that Medicare patients were being turned away,” Bishop said. “Instead, we saw only a modest decline in doctors’ acceptance of patients on Medicare. The survey data showed a more significant decline in their acceptance of patients with private insurance.”

The study revealed that doctors’ acceptance of patients with private insurance declined from 93.3 percent in 2005 to 87.8 percent in 2008.

“At a moment when the country is poised to achieve near-universal coverage, patients’ access to care could be a casualty of the collision between the medical profession and the insurance industry,” Bishop said.

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  • TIME

    And this would surprise anyone why again?

  • Dan

    The only asset you’ve ever got is people’s WILLINGNESS to work. When you blunt that, you’ve just shot yourself in the asset.

    • truesoy

      What does dr’s not accepting insurance has to do with willingness to work? whatever point you’re trying to make is unrelated to the article.

  • Tasmanian devil

    I can’t understand why the general public could not see through Obama two years ago anyway. It was soooo obvious, to me anyway, that our president does NOT have American values. Now wonder this Country is so confused, especially the medical field.

    • eddie47d

      You little devil you! Check out the dates in the article 2005-8 and who was President then? I know some of you get over excited to take on Obama but I believe you are the confused one. You need to look no further than Big Pharma and Private health care insurers to figure out why Doctors are getting paid less for their work. Check out the extraordinary salaries the CEOs and management of these companies get. Then that little bell will go off in your head in why Doctors are dropping patients even those with insurance plans. The insurance companies cut corners too so they can build their massive headquarters and pay those enormous bonuses. The Doctors and patients are the ones who take it in the shorts. So are you defending THEIR American Values? Even if government is part of the problem you need to dig deeper and round up all of the culprits.

      • meteorlady

        OK smart Eddie – since did you see the government put price controls on big pharma or the FDA ban a drug that harms, and even kills, people? Didn’t Clinton sign the bill that allowed them to advertise their poisons thus adding MILLIONS/BILLIONS to the price of the drug? Isn’t it a fact that the insurance lobby was the single biggest lobby during the health care debates and that they paid a lot of Democrats a lot of money for their re-election campaigns? Do you see anyone stepping forward to stop them from their monopoly within states? Do you see anyone on the Democratic side that was interested in checking out non-profit coops as a health care option?

        • eddie47d

          I’m sure the insurance companies spent alot of time jocking for top dog in the health insurance wars and spent alot of money in doing so. They didn’t want to get left out of any sweet deal. On the other hand the right complains that the government is going to drive the private insurers out of business. So why would they spend so much money greasing the palms of Congress if they are going to be shut down? It must have been the Republicans taking the money then to stop the Affordable Health Care Plan. Ah yes that explains it “Lucy”.

      • Andrea B

        In 2005, the rate was 93%, in 2008 the rate is 87%. You are correct, George W was in office then.

        So, in a couple of years, when Obama is no longer in office but his policies WILL just be going into full effect, and that rate drops considerably just as we all know it will, what will you have to say for your messiah then?

        • Andrea B

          It should’ve read, ‘In 2008, the rate WAS 87%,’ not ‘IS.’ Sorry.

  • Dr.Gary J MacDiarmid Sr

    The very poor training in health care professionals is a strong leap backwards. Instead of researching new areas that the Fed gives or throws money at should be placed back on basics.

    • meteorlady

      Affirmative action where we educate the mediocre and penalize the brillant.

      • Andrea B

        Well said!

  • Bev

    When this entire health care debacle was passed, I told people that the doctors were left out of the equation. I also predicted that we would have insurance up to our eyeballs and would not be able to find a doctor anywhere. My family physician told me that she is thinking about not taking insurance. She said she could cut three people from her staff and ultimately make more money with a lot less hassle. And she’s not the only doctor with this in mind – she meets regularly with other likeminded physicians. Who can blame her! More health insurance does not equal better health care. And now we have another entity involved in our health care – the government. Personally I do not want my fate to be determined by some gov’t bureaucrat.

    • truesoy

      I don’t know your doctor, nor I’ll argue the wisdom, nor will I question the veracity of the statements; but I will tell you this:-the government does not control, and I’ll repeat, thegovernment does not control what an insurance pay the doctor for any one person medical care. The insurance companies decide what they will pay a doctor, and no one else; that is why insurance policies that don’t have an scheduled ‘fee’ have a clause that states the following: ‘they pay what’s usual, reasonable and customary for the geographical area’ (they, the insurance company makes that decision, on what is reasonable, usual and customary; what a deal). However, your doctor should know that and to have told you otherwise would be misleading, and if this is the case where your doctor is not honest with you, then you probably should change doctors.
      And about a government bureaucrat deciding your fate? don’t worry about that, there is, and have always been an ‘insurance bureaucrat’ deciding your fate. He’d decide whether to approve or denya procedure, and/or whether to pay for your meds. Remember about two years ago when Cigna denied a liver transplant for that young girl,eventhough she’d been paying her premiums for years, and eventually she died? where was the outcry then from the likes of you? uh, guess it was ok, it was not a government bureaucrat who done it.
      Look bev, private insurance on health matters is not practical, nor it is wise. The insurance industry, unlike true capitalists enterprises, only makes money when ‘you, the consumer, do not use their product’, that is why they put so many exclusions and limitations on their policies. Lets see if I can draw you a picture to give you a better understanding: I am sure you are familiar with FedEx and Ups, right? well, let me ask you, would you use their services if they only make money on packages ‘not delivered’? I doubt you’d use their services because you are not stupid, right?! So, why would you do it for your healthcare needs?.

      • Tim W.

        You’re wrong if you believe private insurance pays rates at “usual and customary” rates. That went out the door soon after Medicare began paying on a “resource-value” basis. Most private insurance fee schedule is now simply a percentage (90%-110%) of published Medicare rates.

  • TombstoneLizard

    Any program that is funded now, or has been funded in the past, by taxpayers is going to get ripped off starting with the shills at the top. I’m just waiting for the government to pull a Reagan and force doctors who are tired of the nonsense to go back to work or be arrested. Ever since Reagan pulled that crap on air traffic controllers (another group that hold people’s lives in their hands)everyone who maintains public safety and/or health has feared similar threats. Now more than ever I am glad for my VA benefits; but it isn’t hard to envision those drying up and blowing away as well.

    • meteorlady

      Wasn’t Reagan president a long time ago and isn’t the air traffic controllers jobs the same as then?

    • Buckeye

      Check with the Military Veterans & Foreign Affairs Journal Michelle Bachman tried to get over $4 billion cut from veterans benefits and some other repubs want to cut all benefits except for vets actually wounded in action. Be aware of this wicked lady as just yesterday in a news interview she said she wants to eliminate any minimum wage.

  • Linda

    Recently, in Burleson,Texas, at a “Family Medical Center”(the only facility I’ve used since 2003), I had to wait more than 28 hours for an appt. Then, after waiting for more than 45 minutes on a Friday evening for that appt.,I was told that since I had not been there in 2 years, I would be considered a “New” patient, and that they didn’t accept new “medicare” patients. I have great secondary insurance, and said that I would gladly pay cash,but was still refused. Fortunately, I was able to find another provider that same night. I was told that if I had waited even 1 more day, I would have been hospitalized for pneumonia and pulmonary edema. Thanks, Mr. President!

    • truesoy

      Linda, don’t worry, because if Paul Ryan gets his way there’ll be no medicare for us to worry about anymore. Simple.

      • Jeff in OH

        And that would be the best thing that could happen. Go Paul go!!!!!

        • truesoy

          Yes, Jeff in OH, that will be the best thing that could happen, in that, it is the surest way for conservatives to become liberals, when reality comes to bite them in the ass!

  • Harry S.

    Anyone who keeps up with politics knows what the real problem in the Healthcare industry is. It’s Regulations.

    1) Stop the law that prevents health insurance companys from selling insurance accross state lines. Freedom of choice and competition would quickly bring the cost of health insurance down.

    2) Stop frivolous law suits that pay patients millions of dollars for minor injuries that far exceeds any damage inflicted. A limit on damages paid for malpractice, according to each complaint, will keep doctors from dropping patients.

    • meteorlady

      Hmmmm, there are a lot of lawsuits that are not frivolous but unfortunately they are settled out of court and the doctors stays in business. There is one here in my city that is still in business after two patients died as a result of his surgeries and one women whose breasts are deformed because of him. They all settled and he is still doing business causing more problems and dollars for the health care system.

      I think that there has to be a fine line here and that if they didn’t want to get sued they would police themselves and get rid of the really bad doctors.

      • Jeff in OH

        Why do people go to him? I think people should do just a little research on someone who is going to operate on them

    • Jeff in OH

      I think It’s a nut in office called Obumer

    • truesoy


      Are you aware that insurance companies are across state lines and have been there from day one; ex: Blue Shield/Blue Cross (the Blues Brothers), and just about everyother insurance carrier.
      One thing you don’t understand and just about everbody else that makes the same proposal as you, is that premiums are not based on where the insurance company is located at, your premiums are based on whe you are. In other words, you could live next to the insurance company of your choice and what they charge would not change, period. Furhtermore, your premiums could be even higher than a friend who lives on the other side of town because of a difference of zip code, funny, isn’t; but true. It is a common practice for insurance companies to charge different rates based on zip codes within the same states, and/ or within the same city. So, the bottom line is that ‘if they could only go across state lines’ argument is not the reason. However, what they are trying to do is change the rules to circumvent the states’ insurance commissioners.
      As for competition, the insurance industry itself is eliminating the competition because the larger carriers are eating up the smaller ones.
      About ‘frivolous lawsuits’, that is an excuse insurance companies use to ‘jack up’ your premiums because the company that writes ‘malpractice insurance’ is not the same one that writes medical insurance.
      Ps.-health insurance companies control how much they will pay your doctor, and it has been this way from the beginning. They have a clause in their policy that says’ they pay what’s usual, reasonable, and customary for the geographical area’. And they decide what that is!
      I hope to have given you a bit more understanding of the issue. If you have anyother question, just ask, I’ll be glad to help.



  • meteorlady

    Humana in my areas (Texas) has recently dropped 8 doctors (really good ones from their preferred providers list). I was in the middle of a treatment when they cancelled the doctor. I called and told them they could not stop in the middle of a treatment and the offered to send me forms for myself and the doctor to fill out but never did. I’m stuck in limbo arguing and will have to send a letter to the insurance commissioner of Texas to get something done. Meanwhile, I have no treatment options but to see another doctor and start over – adds to the cost of my care.

    My current doctor is not taking any new patients because she can’t afford to take medicaid patients any longer and stay in business.

    I would personally like to thank the federal government for all this crap. All they had to do what stop drug company advertising and allow insurance companies to cross state lines as a first and major step in health care “reform”.

  • Bob Marshall

    I wait in my doctors’ office for one hour. He sees me for one minute. How is he losing money? You can see a lot of patients with that method of operation.most doctors have become completely unattached to to their patients.The best doctor i ever ad ws in Houston. Eighty years old. He said the same thing.He treated me more more like a relative than a dollar bill. I do agree that Medicare and Medicad do take too long to pay in some cases.Before anyone jokes about his age. many Americans should wish to be so healthy.

  • meteorlady

    Recently a big hospital in a major city took count of all the illegals and immigrants they treated “free” in their emergency rooms. It amounted to over $5 MILLION PER YEAR. Just one single hospital. They have to add that into their bottom line and up their prices to pay for this loss and so we pay for it with higher insurance premiums and higher medical costs. AND… who passed the law that said every one is entitled to be treated in the emergency room even if they can’t pay? CONGRESS.. It’s time to make those that can’t afford it used Medicaid and it’s time to say and emergency is and emergency, not a sore throat, a minor cut or a stomach ache. People with true emergencies are being shuttled around to hospitals that are further away because closer ones are full. I’ve been there and seen it – it’s packed with non-English speaking non-emergencies while real emergencies are transported further away.

    • Normal

      I agree that our doctor and hospital bills have to pay for the uninsured. That’s part of the reason for high medical costs. I also think that all hospitals need a connected walk in clinic for non emergencies. For example, my husband and I travel a lot and cannot wait days for a doctor appointment and do not even know the names of doctors to call. Also, even at home, we cannot see doctors on weekends or nights, so have a few times gone to emergency rooms.
      We have been to several hospitals that do have walk in clinics next to the emergency room and do not charge any more than a regular doctor appointment.

  • Jerome Bigge

    Problem is that the doctors have all the patients they can handle so why should they take on more? Prior to 1938 there were no prescription laws and people went to the druggist when they were sick instead of the doctor. Of course this cut the incomes of doctors (not that they were doing that well during the Great Depression), and acting through the AMA, the doctors got the Roosevelt administration to pass a law requiring a doctor to write you a prescription before you could purchase medicine from the local drug store. As a member of the Libertarian party let me suggest that repealing prescription laws for all non-narcotic medicine would make big difference in the number of patients each doctor has to see, along with people who are seeing the doctor just to get their blood pressure prescriptions renewed as required every year. The medical profession created these income enhancing laws for their own benefit, and now find themselves so busy that they can’t handle all the people that want to see them. Also most of the time when you are sick you really don’t need someone with MD level qualifications, so lesser trained people such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants could meet your requirements. Of course the MD’s don’t like this because it cuts into their incomes. I might add that the proof that prescription laws exist solely for the benefit of practitioners is that “vets” (animal doctors) also enjoy the economic benefits of prescription laws too. Now why do we have prescription laws for dogs and cats? You have to have a vet’s prescription to obtain heart worm pills for your pet! This is simply a means by which they use the power of the government to take more money out of your pocket for their own benefit. This is where we need to start saying “No!” to the licensed professions!

    • Andrea B

      You don’t have to have a prescription for heartworm prevention, and they can’t get rid of them with pills–they have to go through something similar to chemo to kill and get rid of the worms. Sometimes the treatment kills the animal, too.

      A lot of the drugs that are FDA approved for humans have been tested on animals first, and a lot of people out there know that. That being said, the veteranarians have to write scripts for antibiotics and pain meds because humans will take them.

      I do agree with your take on government regulations being the biggest contributing factor to why medical costs are so high. It seems that every govt program out there that is designed to create efficiency or stream-line a process, ends up costing more than it’s worth and harms more than it helps. One would think they would learn from their own mistake-filled history, but that’s assuming they CAN learn.

      Ron Paul 2012

  • Syl

    No doctor will take me because I will only see one when I am sick. Doctors continue follow-up appointments for their regular patients until the end of time if they can get away with it. If you are not “sick” for awhile they drop you as a patient. So they have a stabel of patients at all times. People who are not really sick take up valuable appointment space just to retain a doctor (similar to a lawyer). So if a doctor won’t take you, it’s probably more likely that he already has a steady income and likes his short weeks. Solution: Pay your doctor what you pay the insurance company every month and he will keep you.

    • truesoy

      …but you’ll be up to your ears in you know what if you need hospitalization, and the hospital won’ttake you unless you have the means to pay, and it’s not cheap!!!!!!!!!!

  • Scott Johns RN

    I’ve worked in critical care as a nurse for almost 40 years. Medicade is killing healthcare as well as driving up the cost of healthcare with its “stupid, yes stupid” rules and regulations. If you were aware of what I see on a daily basis in todays healthcare settings you would never set foot in a hospital again. It’s awful and the patient suffers for it. No wonder I want to quit my job and find a job with more dignity and one that will give me peace of mind at the end of the day.

    • truesoy

      What’s stopping you? Is it the $30-45 per hour, plus the additional overtime that is keeping you there. For the good of your patients, quit.

  • Scott Johns RN

    I forgot to mention the idiots who are in control of health insurance. I have to frequently ask myself and wonder if they know what species they are working with.

  • Dr. John

    I’m a Chiropractor…Medicare pays about $7 per treatment plus all the time and paper work involve….is not worth accidents..takes about 3 years to get paid, if they pay, accident at work almost the same plus all the layers and Gov laws…Private insurance…they usualy cut a 25% of what you bill…in a good day…Plus most doctors have a over 100k’s in Student loans that is no way you can repay in this life time…oh..a forgot malpractice insurance, continue education credits, license fees…
    This is the worst time to be a doctor…

    • truesoy can have it your way!, at Burger King; did you know that?

  • Buckeye

    I don’t blame the doctors. I have Humana Medicare Advantage and they don’t pay hardly anything. I recently had a bill for $250.00 that sounded very reasonable and they paid a whole $38.00 I have no choice on my provider or they would be just a bad memory.

    • truesoy

      And there are those who oppose single payer universal health care because ‘the government’ will then control how much a doctor makes. They seemed to overlook the control insurance companies have over doctors and patients alike.


    I’m a billing manager. private insurances now pay even less then medical assistance( that what Obama probably wanted), more and more private insurances on the market, every insurance has different rules and regulations which are changing almost every month, there is no way to keep an eye on them, looks like whole machine work with one goal -not to pay for services , now doctors cannot negotiate the price list with insurances, they dictate how to run the office and how to treat patients, but at the same time only doctors who are responsible for everything(including health, privacy information in the office and on line; people refuse to pay deductibles and copay( because of propaganda about free health care),
    they do not care about reputation or collection agency, Lawyers stand behind Doctor’s back demanding money ( malpractice insurance,it is more and more difficult to understand contracts and regulations)But we all sleep at night when doctors rush to hospitals to help people
    They are appreciated less and less. I’m sorry that at this time doctors keep silence, trying cope with tremendous pressure. Wake up Doctors! you work hard

    • truesoy

      Don’t blame Obama for the insurance industry’s shortcomings. It has been this way from the beginning. Remember insurance is a product that only makes the company money when the customer don’t use it, hence the reluctance from the insurance to pay your medical bills, makes sense, right?

  • Marty S.

    Once O-care is in full tilt we will rarely be seen by actual Doctors. There will be approximately 5 or possibly 6 major major big time medical centers in this country loaded with many specialty clinics etc. and there will be outreach clinics with Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners. You will wait and be graded as for need and viability (worth bothering with). Proof of this is in the amount of jockeying for position by major med centers currently merging buy-outs etc. Centralized and socialized medicine go hand in hand folks. This card will be and is being played as we speak. Stay as healthy as you can.

    • truesoy

      Marty S,
      And what do you think the HMO’s have been doing, for years now? Just walk into one of their clinics and/or hospitals, lets take Kaiser for example, and the first to see would be a ‘screen nurse’,and then a ‘nurse practitioner or PA probably will be the one to see you next.
      This is not to imply your quality of care would be inferior, since for most minor ailments they are qualified and competent providers.
      In this, if the government was to also do it, they’d just be following in the steps of private providers.

      • Marty S.

        Ok now add 30 to 40 million more people to that system demanding that that their healthcare needs be met. The system is going to get more complicated and difficult for the end user once the government adds in more regulation as well.

        • truesoy

          Marty S. ,
          Lets put you rational in perspective.,
          What you are saying is that 30-to-40 more million people in the system is a complication, and this is one reason you oppose healthcare reform, then, the solution is to keep the system a t the current level forever, and/or knock another 30-to-40 million people off the system to improve it (but remember that you might be one of the unlucky ones). Of course this is the only practical conclusion one can arrived at if using your ‘rational’, as stated above.
          Marty, there is no logic to your argument, sorry.

  • scott

    95% of the doctors I’ve seen in the past 2 years shouldn’t even be doctors. There is no medical oversight and they do pretty much what they want good or bad, here is a pill give me th co pay and have a good day.

  • Lotus Landry

    I require periodic scrutiny due to thyroid cancer. My doctor shut his practice. I was treated 5 years ago. Despite having a PPO plan that allows me to go to non Medicare doctors, I was denied an appointment at the recommended alternative doctor in my area because they won’t take ‘new’ medicare patients. I am age 66. I will run out of meds at some point, until I can find a specialist who opts out. My insurance plan will work with the opted out doctors,but this one apparently won’t give up his existing medicare patients to make room for patients left in the lurch. This is worse than the malpractice crisis. At some point I won’t have meds and won’t even be able to drive a car without them as I have NO thyroid gland.

  • Ann Nonymous

    We need to stop providing services to doctors. Don’t sell them good–gasoline, groceries, dry cleaning services, etc. REFUSE to treat them–to anything!!! Kick them out of your business. That will teach them a lesson.


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