Survey Warns of Drop in San Diego Doctors Who Take Medi-Cal, Medicare
San Diego County residents who receive public health care benefits are increasingly finding it difficult to receive primary care as reimbursement rates remain low in the region, according to a recent study by the San Diego County Medical Society, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The survey found a rising percentage of doctors in the county who no longer participate in Medicare, Medi-Cal or the county's health care safety net program.
Joe Scherger, the medical society's communications director, said, "For more and more San Diegans, the option for getting care is going to be a clinic or a pharmacy or an emergency room." He added that surveys conducted in 2002 and 2005 also identified "real problems, but now they are getting incrementally worse."
Ted Mazer, past president of the society, said, "When you look at trends from 2002, 2005 and now, you seen nearly every mode of practice gradually cutting back on the number of patients they're seeing whose care is reimbursed by Medicare, Medi-Cal" and County Medical Services.
Aside from low reimbursement rates, the declining number of physicians in the region can be attributed to retirement and a small number of doctors willing to fill the vacancies.
The problem is particularly noticeable among individual or small-group practices, of which nearly 90% reported an "astonishing" difficulty in recruiting doctors, according to the report (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/29).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Tuesday reported on the report. The segment includes comments from Tom Gehring, executive director of the medical society (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 1/29).
Audio and a transcript of the segment are available online.