Low Reimbursements May Be Leading US Physicians To Turn Away Even Privately Insured Patients.

Bloomberg News (6/28, Armstrong) reports, US physicians are “turning away an increasing number of patients, including those with private insurance,” according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Physicians accepted about “88 percent of patients who had private insurance in 2008, down from 93 percent in 2005”; and they accepted about “93 percent” of Medicare patients in 2008, “down from 96 percent” in 2005. The drop in willingness to “take private insurance was caused by low payments for services as well as administrative difficulties,” explained lead study author Dr. Tara Bishop of Weill Cornell Medical College. Additionally, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans spokesperson Robert Zirkelbach, “some insurers have shrunk” their provider networks “to improve quality.” Health providers “may have to rely more on nurses and physician assistants,” said Leighton Ku of George Washington University. NPR (6/28, Hensley) also covers the study in its “Shots” blog.

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