Usually when we take a look at the potential cuts to Medicare and Supplemental Medicare Insurance (or Medigap) Congress is mulling over, we try to focus on what it means for seniors and others who quickly approaching retirement age. We’ll do that again this time around, but we also want to throw a little focus on the other group of Americans this affects—Doctors. After all, it is potential cuts to doctor pay that makes the consequences of proposed changes to Medicare and Medigap Plans even more difficult to fully realize.

Talk of cutting pay to doctors is nothing new, but there are some in the medical field that feel like this time all the talk might actually lead to something. However, there are others that are sure Congress will work something out and doctors won’t feel the hit:

“Medicare is again warning that doctors face draconian pay cuts on Jan. 1 unless Congress acts. Officials said Tuesday it works out to a 27.4 percent cut. No one expects lawmakers to allow the axe to fall, but 48 million beneficiaries and their doctors are looking on nervously.” (from the Washington Post)

There have been a number of suggestions that would involve lowering the pay of doctors, but needless to say, doctors are not, on the whole, on board with those ideas. One non-partisan group suggested a plan that involves a 10-year freeze and cuts, but most physicians are no more interested in accepting that than they are the 27.4% cut talked about earlier.

So, what does all this mean? It’s easy for some of us not to feel too bad about doctors taking a loss in their paychecks. As I recall, becoming a doctor was pretty much the way to win the old “Life” board game. However, these potential major cuts to Medicare do affect seniors on a very personal level. One of the major concerns involves access to care. Basically, will doctors continue to see patients who need medical assistance and care if seeing those patients causes a strain on the business? As Dr. Myles Pensak, University of Cincinnati Physicians CEO, said, “In general, I think practices, individuals physicians, large physician groups are going to be caught in an ethical, economical tension dilemma.” (from Doctors fear Medicare cuts may stick this time)

If this “ethical/economical tension” arises, where does it leave patients? There is, of course, the possibility of reduced choices of care providers. Most think that the more likely scenario, however, would be that doctors would end up passing the cost on to patients—that they would accept Medicare as “partial payment” and we seniors would have to cover the rest.

The cut to doctors’ pay and other potential changes to Medicare continue to be major issues that we as seniors must stay on top of. It’s easy to write all of it off as political maneuvering and arguing across the Aisle (which part of it may very well be), but we still need to have the latest information in order to make the best decisions when choosing health care coverage, whether that solely involves Medicare or whether it also includes Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap). If you find it difficult to break down the numbers or to fully realize how all of the possible changes will actually affect you, you can check out Medicare.gov for some answers, but it’s always a good idea to talk one-on-one with a medical insurance expert. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree to any particular type of coverage or a specific plan, but it will give you the chance to see what options work best for your specific situation.

Author's Bio: 

CBoomer is also a Medicare supplement broker dedicated to helping people on Medicare access quality health care through Medigap Plans. Cindy also writes articles on Retirement Planning, Healthly Living for Seniors and Information on What is Medicare.