Why Wouldn't a Geriatrician take Medicare?
It sounds crazy, right? A Physician specially trained to care for the aging population and all that comes with it should of course take Medicare, the insurance for those in the USA greater than 65. During my training first as a Family Physician and then as a Geriatrician, I looked down on those who didn't accept Medicare and other insurances. However, I had no idea what it meant to actually practice medicine and be in charge of billing Medicare.
Have you ever wondered why you almost never see your physician, but instead you see either a Nurse Practitioner or a Physician's Assistant? Have you ever wondered why your specialists don't seem to communicate with each other? Has it bugged you that you have to jump through hoop after hoop just to get a hold of your own personal health information, much less speak with your doctor? Does it seem odd that more physicians aren't willing to come to you or your aging parent? I could go on endlessly with these types of questions. After practicing within Medicare for 3 years as a Geriatrician, and then starting my own practice, I now know why. Medicare does not pay physicians and providers for their time. In addition, Medicare is ever-increasing the regulations and requirements on physicians for non-patient care related administrative activities. Therefore, physicians don't have any time to give you or to the task of coordinating your care among the healthcare team if they want Medicare to pay them for their services. Rather, they are forced to focus on the volume of patients and regulations from Medicare, and often must utilize others to do so. This can be ok for many, however for the frail elderly, this approach to healthcare is dangerous and in fact, leads to higher costs due to preventable hospitalizations.
I love what I do as a Geriatrician. I love helping patients and families navigate aging and all that comes with it. I love the relationships I have with my patients and their families. But the only way I can continue being the best physician I can be is if I am not time and regulation constricted in the care I give. So, I am finding a better way, and quite frankly an extremely affordable for my patients way. I am converting (for good this time!) to a Direct Primary Care model of practice. One where for an extremely small monthly sum, patients and families get the quality of care they deserve and regular access and communication with me.
I do hope you'll give it a chance. I would bet one month's fee that you'll not regret it.