Bill was 67-year old real estate agent. He was semi-retired. He like showing houses because he had lived in the same small town his whole life. People trusted him. But one day he got a diabetic foot infection. He called his primary care doctor and was referred to a podiatrist. But the podiatrist didn’t have any more “Medicare appointment slots” available until the end of the month. While waiting for the appointment, the infection got Foot Ankle Doctor Newton MA 02158 worse. So instead of high quality care, Bill got an amputation. Now he sits in a wheelchair, wishing he could sell houses.
Retired Americans often view Health Care paid for by Medicare as one of the few perks of retiring. After a lifetime of working hard, raising children, and paying into the System, Medicare is one of the few reliable ways to get a return. But unfortunately for those who are diabetic, Medicare can be bad Newton MA 02158 for your health. It’s just math; not enough money equals not enough high quality medical care.
The recent attempted resurrection of President Obama’s Health Care reform efforts speak to the broken system. The fact is that Medicare is an expensive program. Since 2002, Medicare has been short of money. There is only just so much money to go around. All of the federal mandates that have been written into law to save money are simply killing Foot Ankle Doctor Newton MA 02158 diabetics. As long as you understand why, you’ll be able to get quality care even if you do have Medicare.
1. Difficult to Find a Medicare Doctor.
Since 1986 Medicare has set all doctor fees. Doctors don’t decide how much they get paid, Medicare decides. Adjusted for inflation, over the last eight years, Medicare Has reduced fees about 20% every year. On March 1, 2010 doctors took another hit when Congress let another 21.2% reduction in doctor Newton MA 02158 pay take effect. Imagine if at your job every year you get 20% less pay instead of a raise. How long would it take you to look for another job? Obviously your doctor can’t just switch careers, but he can stop taking Medicare.
In some places this means less doctors are available to accept new patients. If you live in San Francisco, the cost of living may be twice that in rural Ohio. But incredibly, doctors Newton MA 02158 seeing patients in San Francisco get paid comparable fees by Medicare. So your doctor has to either learn to live poor or see twice as many patients.
2. Doctors Who Accept Medicare are Swamped.
In 2008, the president of the American Medical Association (AMA) was testifying in front of Congress about declining care for Medicare patients and the problem of Medicare cuts. The AMA President informed congress that the vast majority of doctors in the United States Newton MA 02158 would simply opt-out of Medicare and stop providing care for Medicare patients. Senator Stark replied that since Medicare started reducing payments to doctors many years ago, doctor’s have simply seen more and more patients each year to make up for the lost revenue.
But it is now clear that doctor’s can’t keep seeing more and more patients. Sixty patients in a day is just plain bad medicine. Seven minutes of time in a room with a Newton MA 02158 patient is not enough time to understand blood sugar readings, sugar pills, insulin shots, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease and explain diabetic foot care. It just isn’t enough time to practice good medicine. Too many patients and not enough time is a prescription for a diabetic disaster.
3. Less Pay for Medicare Diabetes Doctors.
Many people don’t think pay should have anything to do with the quality of the care. But the reality is, it just comes down Newton MA 02158 to math. If your doctor accepts Medicare, but has to see 60 patients a day, you won’t get much time. I actually have a doctor friend who says, “I just tell Medicare patients they get two problems to talk about during a visit. Just two,” she said holding up two fingers.
But what if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, and you also have a little sore on your foot? If you can only talk about Newton MA 02158 two problems, you’ll ignore the diabetic foot ulcer. And if that diabetic foot sore turns in to a diabetic foot infection, you just might wind up with an amputation.
When you are allowed the time you need to talk to your doctor, you would and should talk about all of your health concerns. This of course is the way medicine used to be. The fact that most patients don’t know is that your doctor is obligated Newton MA 02158 ethically and in many cases legally to hear about all of your health problems that need to be treated. So if you doctor says, “We’ll have to discuss that next time,” just insist that he hear you out.
4. Medicare is Decreasing Services.
If you have diabetes you will be sent to a lot of different specialists. Studies have shown that having diabetes make you four times more likely to have a heart attack. You are also Newton MA 02158 way more likely to develop kidney trouble, blindness, or diabetic foot infections that lead to amputation. To make sure everything is working right, your primary care doctor will likely send you for “consultations” with other diabetes specialists like podiatrists, cardiologists, opthalmologists and nephrologists.
A consult is a visit to a specialist requested specifically by your primary care doctor. The problem is that Medicare simply stopped paying “consult codes” this year. So don’t expect a specialist to Newton MA 02158 take any extra time explaining your health problems to you or your primary care doctor. And don’t be surprised if these specialists don’t work you into their schedules very quickly. They simply are making money like the once were.
Once upon a time, house calls were common, but now very few doctors who accept Medicare can afford to make house calls. There is just no way they can take the time to drive from house to Newton MA 02158 house with the low rates medicare pays. This is obviously a big problem for an elderly diabetic who may have poor eyesight or an open wound on the foot. If you can’t see because of your blindness and aren’t supposed to walk on the foot with an open sore, how can you easily get to the doctor’s office?
5. No Diabetes Prevention.
It is simply a fact that the problems related to poorly managed diabetes are preventable. Newton MA 02158 Blindness, kidney failure, and diabetic leg amputations are all preventable. Doctors fully understand how elevated blood sugar levels damage the eyes, kidneys and feet. Doctors also fully understand how preventative care can prevent this damage. But Medicare won’t pay for intensive diabetic foot monitoring programs. It has been shown that close monitoring of diabetic foot skin temperatures can prevent diabetic foot sores. But this sort of close monitoring by a diabetic foot expert isn’t a Newton MA 02158 service that Medicare will pay for. As a result, it is a service that isn’t offered to you by your doctor.
So now that you know the Top 5 Reasons Medicare is bad for your diabetes, what can you do about it? First keep in mind that most doctors decided to become doctors because they really and truly want to help people stay healthy and happy. Remember that your doctor is on your team. But feel Newton MA 02158 free to remind him or her that you need help, even if it might take a little extra time. In most cases your doctor will listen.
You’ve got to ask tons of questions. Take a list of questions so that you can stay on track and get all of your concerns dealt with in a short doctor visit. Ask your doctor about performs house calls. If not, find one that does. Even if you have to Newton MA 02158 pay for it, having a doctor come to your home is an amazing convenience. Make sure you ask your doctor about any new treatments that are available, but not covered by Medicare. If you don’t ask, many docs will simply not take the time to offer all available treatments if they aren’t covered.
Diabetes is a serious disease. Many patients with diabetes will die from health complications directly attributable to poorly controlled blood sugar. Given that Newton MA 02158 most of these problems can be managed and prevented, you owe it to yourself to insist on the very best care from your doctor.