Census: Fewer physicians' offices accept Medicaid than Medicare

About 87.4 million people are supported by government-sponsored health insurance, according to the Census Bureau, but a recent report shows that 83 percent of medical offices accept Medicare and only 65 percent accept Medicaid.

The Physician Office Acceptance of Government Insurance Programs Report released by SK&A, a provider of healthcare information and research, surveyed 178,000 U.S. office-based physician medical offices about their acceptance of the government-funded programs Medicare and Medicaid.

According to the survey, Medicare and Medicaid acceptance is largely influenced by variables such as the size, ownership, location and specialty of the physician practice. Practices with 26 or more physicians are more likely to accept Medicare (87.1 percent) and Medicaid (83.6 percent) than smaller practices with between one and 10 physicians.

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The higher the patient volume, the more likely it is that practices accept these programs, the survey indicates. Offices with a daily patient volume greater than 31 have acceptance rates of 84 percent for Medicare and 68.4 percent for Medicaid.

The ownership of the practice is also influential in Medicaid acceptance policies, the study said. Acceptance of Medicaid is higher with hospital-owned practices (82.1 percent) than non-hospital-owned practices (62.9 percent). For Medicare, acceptance patterns did not vary significantly by ownership.

SK&A found that acceptance rates vary by physician specialty. Those with the highest Medicare acceptance rates are podiatry (97.6 percent), thoracic surgery (97.5 percent) and colon-rectal surgery (97 percent). Those with the lowest Medicare acceptance rates are occupational medicine (16 percent), holistic medicine (23.2 percent) and bariatrics (27.7 percent).

The top three physician specialties that accept Medicaid are dialysis (95.8 percent), nephrology (91.8 percent) and thoracic surgery (91.5 percent). The lowest acceptance rates for Medicaid come from occupational medicine (10 percent), holistic medicine (10.7 percent) and bariatrics (13.1 percent).