Medicare reductions will foster ‘concierge’ medicine

Aug 28, 2012, 5:00 am — There have been a lot of recent discussions on the impact of the proposed reductions to Medicare.
One disturbing point that isn’t getting a lot of attention is how the reductions will impact the entire system.

The nation that reducing expenses by more than $700 billion over a 10-year period will have zero impact on beneficiaries is laughable. The argument says the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will reduce the growth of Medicare outlays to providers by unilaterally reducing the rate of medical inflation.

The problem is that providers will need to make accommodations to offset the reduced reimbursement rates. This will have direct effects to Medicare beneficiaries, in the form of increased waiting times to see a general practitioner, fewer physicians willing to take on new Medicare patients, and an increase in waiting times for specialty services and surgeries.

Indirectly, this will have a disproportionate impact on medical inflation to private insurance, as providers will seek new avenues to make up the differences in costs.

Finally, providers will increasingly go to “concierge” or “membership” medicine for Medicare patients, which is the practice of charging annual fees or retainers to their patients. These fees will help offset the reduced reimbursements, but will increase costs to Medicare beneficiaries.

Bradley Nuss
Zumbro Falls


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