The great majority of primary-care doctors — 93 percent — still do participate in the Medicare program, with rather fewer — 72 percent — saying that they are accepting new Medicare patients, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's 2015 National Survey of Primary Care Providers. So it's likely that your current doctor will continue to accept you as a patient when you start on Medicare. But if not, these are options to explore:
- Use the doctor directory on Medicare's website. Click on "Find doctors & other health professionals" on the home page. Enter your zip code or city and state, type "primary care" in the search field, and click on "Search." Click on one of the specialties on the menu that appears (family practice, general practice, geriatric medicine, or internal medicine). You can also find specialists and group practices on this site. You'll need to call the offices of the doctors shown to see whether they're accepting new Medicare patients.
- Contact your state medical association. These physician groups often keep lists of doctors who are accepting new patients. Do an Internet search for "[your state name] medical association."
- Consider using a nurse practitioner for your primary care. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are qualified to perform many duties that physicians perform, including diagnosis and treatment, writing prescriptions, and referring patients to specialists and labs. To find licensed NPs in your area, go to the website of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
- Get medical treatment from a community clinic, which is often called an urgent care or walk-in medical center. You may have to wait awhile to see a doctor, but these clinics give good care and usually accept Medicare. To find one in your area, search the Internet for the clinic terms mentioned here.