Medicare Patients’ Access to Physicians: A Synthesis of the Evidence

KFF: 12/10/13

For many people, having good access to health care means having a regular doctor, being able to schedule timely appointments with that doctor, and being able to find new ones when needed.  Good access to doctors is especially important for people with Medicare—seniors and adults with permanent disabilities—because they are significantly more likely than others to need health care services.  Media reports over the last several years have periodically raised the question of whether Medicare beneficiaries have trouble finding a doctor who will see them.1 Indeed, looming threats of significant Medicare payment cuts for physician services due to the Sustainable Growth Rates (SGR) system (a payment formula that has been in law, but repeatedly overridden by Congress) continues to generate news stories of doctors not taking Medicare patients. Read More