Can’t get Mom or Dad in to see the Doctor? Wondering why are fewer and fewer Doctors accepting Medicare and Advantage Plan patients?

team2121Can’t get Mom or Dad in to see the Doctor? Wondering why are fewer and fewer Doctors accepting Medicare and Advantage Plan patients? Unfortunately it comes down to dollars and cents… or dollars and sense if you prefer. Medicare and Advantage plans are paying Doctors less for their services. Senior patients unfortunately cost Doctors more to diagnose and treat than younger people with the same conditions.

Why do seniors cost more to treat?

 Senior patients take up more space in the waiting room as they often need the assistance of a caregiver.

 Senior patients take longer to get into a room when it is their turn and longer to get history and information from due to mobility and memory deficits, utilizing more staff time.

 Senior patients require more intensive and thorough assessments of their condition. The payments by Medicare of Advantage plans may be only enough to cover the cost of a few minutes of a Doctor’s time which makes an office visit by a high utilization senior a financial loss to the Doctor and practice.

So what is the fix for this problem? One emerging solution is the development of teams that combine Medical Doctors (MDs) with Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners to control costs while also delivering the higher level of service often needed by seniors. One of the key advantages to this team concept is that the care can be done in the patient’s own home, eliminating hazardous and time consuming trips to the Doctor’s office!

Collaborating with the MD, the Physician Assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional who is licensed to practice medicine as part of a team with physicians. Physician Assistants assess, treat, prevent and manage illness and chronic medical conditions by ordering or providing a broad range of healthcare services in collaboration with a physician. Physician Assistants can perform most services a doctor performs in their office or clinic. They manage care and operate under the direction of a physician to ensure he/she is kept updated. They coordinate all and can also order prescription refills.

The Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who are prepared through advanced education to provide a wide range of preventative, acute and chronic health care services. NPs complete graduate-level education preparation leading to a master’s degree. NPs take heath histories and provide complete physical examinations; diagnose and treat many acute and chronic problems, interpret laboratory results and x-rays, prescribe and manage medications and other therapies, provide health teaching and supportive counseling with an emphasis on prevention of illness and health maintenance and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.

Listen and learn more about this advancement in elder care with The Senior Answer this Saturday morning at 11 on 100.7 FM KKHT Houston. No radio in the house? Listen to the live stream at www.senioranswer.org ! Do not miss this important program!!!!