Not Enough Doctors (except in Tucson)by Denise Early on Jan. 25, 2010, under Health
There’s an article in today’s Arizona Republic about doctors in Yavapai County turning away Medicare patients. The reason is said to be a combination of too few doctors and low Medicare payments. The interesting point for Tucson residents appears in the following paragraph from the article:
The ratio of primary-care doctors to population is below the national average in all Arizona counties except Pima, Gila and Coconino counties. The situation is pronounced in Yavapai County, where one out of four residents is enrolled in Medicare, a rate nearly twice the national average. There, the ratio is 5.3 primary-care doctors for every 10,000 residents, below the national average of 10.5 per 10,000, according to a December 2009 St. Luke’s Health Initiatives report on primary care.
Tucson apparently has plenty of doctors and almost all take Medicare. Most doctors are also contracted with the Medicare Advantage HMOs, which have very large lists of primary care physicians and specialists in their networks.
I have heard complaints from a few doctor groups about the HMOs requiring prior authorization for tests. Doctors complain about the paperwork involved and refusals coming from the insurance companies. A recent story I heard was when a doctor requested an MRI for a patient with shoulder pain. The insurance company said “no” to the MRI and recommended physical therapy. The patient contacted his insurance agent and said, “Get me out of this Medicare Advantage plan!”.
The big news in Benson is that Dr. Barbara Hartley is quitting Medicare Advantage HMO’s and only taking Medicare. The paperwork involved with the Medicare Advantage plans apparently takes up too much time for the doctor and her staff.
Here is the link to the Arizona Republic article: