The introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 has reformed the insurance industry in the United States and will allow thousands of Americans to get insured with better rights and benefits.
According to a new research led by Dr. Tara Bishop, assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College and a practicing physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, since 2005 doctors have been accepting a smaller number of patients with health insurance.
The research was published in the June 27th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
Dr. T. Bishop explained:
"Insured patients could face new obstacles to receiving the medical attention they need, and overall access to health care could actually contract."
The researchers gathered data from a CDC National Center for Health Statistics national survey. The results have revealed a general decrease in the number of patients accepted by physicians with several types of insurance. It was noted that between 2008 and 2005 there was only a slight overall decrease (2.6%) in the acceptance of Medicare patients. Over this four-year period physicians' also accepted fewer and fewer Medicaid patients, although the researchers blame Medicaid's low reimbursement rates for this trend. The most astounding finding of the current study is a trend in the fall of the physicians' acceptance of new patients even with private insurance - from 93.3 percent in 2005 to 87.8 percent in 2008.
Dr. Bishop says:
"Given the medical profession's widely reported dissatisfaction with Medicare, we expected to find hard evidence that Medicare patients were being turned away. 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 authors believe the fall in the number of patients with insurance being accepted by doctors is mainly due to:
- Slow reimbursements that cannot keep up with the medical spending rates
- Complicated administrative issues related to private health insurance
"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.
Consumers and health advocacy groups, too, should be aware of these early warning signs so that they can work to ensure access to quality medical care."
Written by Anne Hudsmith