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KFF Analysis: Majority of Physicians Accept New Patients, Including Patients With Medicare, Private Insurance

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Despite occasional anecdotal reports of people having trouble finding a doctor who takes their insurance, KFF researchers find in a new analysis that the vast majority of non-pediatric office-based physicians accept new Medicare patients, as well as new private insurance patients.

Eighty-nine percent of such physicians accepted new Medicare patients in 2019, and 91 percent accepted new private insurance patients, according to the analysis, which uses data from the federal 2019 National Electronic Health Records Survey (NEHRS). Among primary care physicians the rates are lower, but still comparable for new patients with Medicare (83%) and private insurance (86%).

In addition, the analysis found that roughly the same percentage of non-pediatric office-based physicians accepted new Medicare patients in 2011 (88%) as in 2019. And the share of physicians who accept new private insurance patients has risen considerably over the period — up 10 percentage points from 81 percent in 2011 to 91 percent in 2019.

The new analysis also contains state-level data. KFF researchers find that in 23 states, at least 90 percent of all non-pediatric office-based physicians accepted new Medicare patients in 2015-2017. Across all states the share ranged from 76 percent in Washington D.C. to 95 percent in three states (Iowa, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania), similar to the range for privately-insured patients.

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