Doctors are not required to accept Medicare, so before you enroll in the program it is a good idea to ask your primary physician if they accept Medicare. This will give you time to figure out your options if your doctor does not take Medicare. However, the chance that your doctor doesn’t accept Medicare is low; as of September 2013, about 735,000 doctors nationwide accepted Medicare, while approximately 9,500 physicians opted out of the program. Additionally, there are many more nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals that also accept Medicare.
HealthPocket provides a Doctor Health Plan Finder that allows you to conduct a search using a doctor’s first, last, or full name. Initial search results provide you with a list of plan types and plan carriers accepted by the physician which includes whether the physician accepts Medicare. You are also given the doctor’s address, phone number, and a map to help you locate them. If you click “View Profile” for a specific doctor you can see additional information such as the specific plans the doctor accepts during the current year. Our Doctor Health Plan Finder tool also lets you search by zip code to view a list of physicians in your area. You can then narrow down the results to doctors who only accept Medicare and by specialty. You can filter by gender as well. If you don’t find a physician within 5 miles you can increase your search distance to 10 or 25 miles.
The official US Government Medicare website also includes several tools to assist consumers in finding a physician or hospital that accepts Medicare. Medicare.gov’s Physician Compare tool allows you to search by location, specialty, medical condition, and/or hospital affiliation.
How should I choose a Medicare Provider?
When choosing a new doctor, it is helpful to make a list of the qualities you value in a physician. Do you want your doctor to be associated with a specific hospital? Do you prefer a male or female physician? Keeping these qualities in mind can assist you in creating a baseline from which to start your search. You can also ask friends or family to recommend a doctor. Locating a doctor by asking someone you trust often leads to a higher satisfaction rating with your physician, according to a Consumer Reports survey.
As the popularity of online review sites grows, there are now more opportunities to search for and read reviews of a physician or practice before making a selection. There are several websites that are dedicated solely to patient reviews of physicians and other healthcare professionals. It is important to take these reviews with a grain of salt, since they may be written anonymously or by a disgruntled former employee. However, a recent study by the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems reports that patient satisfaction levels as reported by an independent survey were about the same as online reviews would indicate for the same physicians.
After narrowing down your search to a few final names, an introductory phone conversation with each candidate may be all you need to make a selection.