Doctors more open to accepting Medicare, private insurance rather than Medicaid

March 30, 2015

Although most physicians contacted in 2013 were accepting new patients with any type of insurance, they seemed to prefer patients with private insurance or Medicare, rather than Medicaid, according to a National Center for Health Statistics survey. Nationwide, an average of 84.7% of physicians were accepting new privately insured patients, followed closely by Medicare with 83.7%; that latter figure jumps to 88.8% if pediatricians are excluded. Medicaid was significantly farther behind, with only 68.9% of physicians accepting new Medicaid patients. Overall, an average of 95.3% of physicians nationwide were accepting new patients, the researchers found. However, acceptance rates for patients with different types of insurance varied geographically. For example, a lower percentage of physicians practicing within metropolitan statistical areas accepted new Medicare patients compared with those practicing outside such areas (82.9% versus 91.2%). The same was true for acceptance of Medicaid patients (67.2% versus 85.7%). Acceptance rates also varied by state. States where physicians had significantly higher than average acceptance rates for new Medicare patients included Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Medicaid acceptance rates showed the greatest amount of variation, ranging from 38.7% in New Jersey to 96.5% in Nebraska. On the other hand, 25 states had Medicaid acceptance rates significantly higher than the national average.