Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Medicare for All" Would Not Be A Panacea

"Medicare for All" is a slogan I've been hearing a lot lately. Unfortunately, those of us who have been Medicare providers know that this would be no panacea for our nation's healthcare woes.

I've stopped accepting Medicare patients. I got tired of re-submitting the same claim form 3 times because an i wasn't dotted or a t wasn't crossed. I also found it impossible to find out in advance how much I would be paid, which is not the same rate for every patient.
I had a patient who had Medicare and Medicaid, and when I tried to bill Medicaid for the co-pay--the usual procedure--I was told I could not, for unclear reasons, but also that I could not bill the patient. I ended up being paid $50 per session for this patient, which is below my lowest fee.
When I signed up for electronic funds transfer, it took Medicare more than 6 months to process my one-page application form.
When I didn't get paid for a patient for unclear reasons, I had to get my Member of Congress to intervene before I was finally paid.

I believe the general public is unaware of how difficult and unprofitable it is for healthcare providers to deal with Medicare. It's naive to think "Medicare for All" would mean guaranteed healthcare, because an increasing number of providers no longer accept Medicare. Health insurance is useless if healthcare providers won't accept it as payment.