If you are among the wave of Baby Boomers about to begin enrolling in Medicare you may be in for some tough times. Recent stories in Financial-Planning.com and USA Today report that the number of doctors refusing new Medicare patients is reaching a record high—and it’s not expected to improve anytime soon, especially since last month “Congress failed to stop an automatic 21% cut in payments that doctors already regard as too low.” Doctors simply feel they cannot afford to treat Medicare patients anymore.
Here are some of the distressing details you’ll find in the USA Today article:
- The American Academy of Family Physicians says 13% of respondents didn’t participate in Medicare last year, up from 8% in 2008 and 6% in 2004.
- The American Osteopathic Association says 15% of its members don’t participate in Medicare and 19% don’t accept new Medicare patients. If the cut is not reversed, it says, the numbers will double.
- The American Medical Association says 17% of more than 9,000 doctors surveyed restrict the number of Medicare patients in their practice. Among primary care physicians, the rate is 31%.
What this means for seniors is that although you may be able to qualify for Medicare you may not necessarily be able to count on it. But you can take action to ensure that a crisis for Medicare doesn’t mean a crisis for you. Your financial advisor or estate planner can help you determine what options you have regarding long-term care, asset protection, and even using alternate strategies in conjunction with Medicare. For example: it may be possible to re-design your trust and estate plan to facilitate access to a nursing home subsidy from the government in the event of future need. See our articles, “Spousal Protection Planning: Creating A Plan for Each Other”, and “Developing a Plan for An Incapacitated Spouse“
The days of being able to count on the government to take care of you in your old age may be coming to an end. It’s time to make your own luck and plan for your own future. Our firm may be able to help.