How Many Physicians Have Opted Out of the Medicare Program?

Medicare supplies medical insurance protection to 65 million adults–nearly 20% of the U.S population—and is a significant income for suppliers, together with physicians and different clinicians. In 2022, Medicare spending on Section B services and products (together with doctor services and products, outpatient services and products, and physician-administered medication) accounted for nearly half (48%) of overall Medicare get advantages spending, and this proportion is anticipated to develop to more than half (52%) by means of 2032. Physicians don’t seem to be required to take part in Medicare, although the majority of them make a choice to take action.

Once a year, the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Services and products (CMS) updates Medicare bills to physicians beneath the doctor commission time table thru rulemaking, as required beneath regulation. Over time, some have raised issues that physicians would decide out of Medicare as a result of Medicare bills for doctor services and products are lower, on average, than payments from private insurers, probably resulting in a scarcity of physicians prepared to regard folks with Medicare.

This temporary builds on earlier KFF analyses by means of offering the latest records at the extent to which non-pediatric physicians are opting out of Medicare, by means of uniqueness and by means of state, in 2023, in response to records printed by means of CMS as of June 2023. (See Methods box for main points).


  • One % of all non-pediatric physicians have officially opted-out of the Medicare program in 2023, with the proportion various quite by means of uniqueness sort, and easiest for psychiatrists (7.7%).
  • Psychiatrists account for the most important proportion (40.2%) of all non-pediatric physicians who’ve opted out of Medicare in 2023.
  • Not up to two % of physicians have opted-out of Medicare in all however 4 states and the District of Columbia, the place the speed is fairly upper: Alaska (3.1%), Colorado (2.3%), Wyoming (2.3%), Idaho (2.1%), and the District of Columbia (2.0%).

3 choices for physicians

These days, physicians and different practitioners opting for to regard sufferers with Medicare and obtain bills from Medicare for those services and products should join in Medicare as a Medicare supplier. Physicians would possibly both comply with be a engaging supplier or non-participating supplier. Suppliers who don’t want to sign up for Medicare, deal with sufferers with Medicare, or obtain Medicare bills are required to signal an “decide out” settlement with their sufferers.

  • Taking part suppliers agree to simply accept “project” on all Medicare claims for alltheir Medicare sufferers, this means that that they’ve signed a participation settlement with Medicare, agreeing to simply accept Medicare’s commission time table quantities as payment-in-full for all Medicare lined services and products. Medicare beneficiaries seeing a engaging supplier can most effective be accountable for the associated fee sharing required by means of Medicare. Suppliers have several incentives to be engaging suppliers, reminiscent of being paid upper charges (5% upper) than the charges paid to non-participating suppliers. The vast majority (98%) of physicians and practitioners billing Medicare are engaging suppliers.
  • Non-participating suppliers settle for Medicare sufferers, however can make a choice whether or not to take project (i.e., Medicare’s accredited quantity) on a claim-by-claim foundation. Not like engaging suppliers, who’re paid the entire Medicare-allowed price quantity, non-participating physicians who take project are restricted to 95% of the Medicare accredited quantity. In 2021, 7% of fee schedule claims by means of non-participating suppliers had been paid on project. Physicians who make a choice not to settle for project can rate beneficiaries greater than the Medicare-approved quantity, (“steadiness invoice”) however no longer exceeding 15% of the fee-schedule allowed quantity. Medicare sufferers are financially accountable for this extra quantity plus acceptable deductibles and coinsurance quantities.
  • Decide-out physicians and different practitioners should sign an affidavit to “opt-out” of the Medicare program solely. Those suppliers input into personal contracts with their Medicare sufferers, letting them invoice any quantity they resolve is acceptable. Suppliers who’ve opted-out of the Medicare program should opt-out for all in their Medicare sufferers. Medicare sufferers seeing a supplier who has opted out of the Medicare program should signal this settlement and comply with be financially chargeable for all of the value of any services and products gained. Neither the supplier nor the affected person can post a invoice to Medicare for repayment.Decide-out agreements closing for 2 consecutive years and are mechanically renewed each and every two years. According to CMS, physicians and different practitioners don’t seem to be allowed to opt-out of Medicare if they’re a Medicare Merit supplier or furnish services and products lined by means of conventional Medicare Section B. Suppliers who’ve opted-out of the Medicare program should input a non-public contract with every in their Medicare sufferers that states that neither celebration is authorized to obtain price from Medicare for the services and products carried out.

What Proportion of Physicians Have Opted Out of Medicare?

1.1 % of non-pediatric physicians have officially opted-out of the Medicare program. As of June 2023, 11,039 non-pediatric physicians have opted out of Medicare, representing an overly small proportion (1.1%) of the full quantity energetic physicians, very similar to the stocks reported in 2013 and 2022.

Whilst the entire opt-out fee is 1.1 %, opt-out charges are quite upper for positive specialties, reminiscent of psychiatry and plastic and reconstructive surgical procedure.  In 2023, 7.7 % of psychiatrists opted out of Medicare, adopted by means of 4.2 % of physicians that specialize in plastic and reconstructive surgical procedure and a couple of.8 % of physicians that specialize in neurology (Determine 2).

Psychiatrists are disproportionately represented a few of the 1.1 % of energetic physicians who’ve opted out of Medicare. Psychiatrists account for the most important proportion (40%) of opt-out physicians, adopted by means of physicians in circle of relatives medication (21%), inside medication (12.6%), and obstetrics/gynecology (6%) (Determine 3).

Figure 3: Among All Physicians Opting-Out of Medicare in 2023, Psychiatrists Account For Largest Share of Opt-Out Providers

Determine 3: Amongst All Physicians Opting-Out of Medicare in 2023, Psychiatrists Account For Biggest Proportion of Decide-Out Suppliers

Along with physicians, any other 4,229 choose medical execs with doctorate levels (i.e. oral surgeons, podiatrists, and optometrists) have additionally opted-out of the Medicare program, with oral surgeons accounting for the overwhelming majority (94%) of this staff (Desk 1).

Not up to two % of physicians have opted-out of Medicare in all however 4 states and the District of Columbia. As of June 2023, Alaska (3.1%), Colorado (2.3%), Wyoming (2.3%), Idaho (2.1%), and the District of Columbia (2.0%) have the easiest charges of non-pediatric physicians who’ve opted out of Medicare, although in every case the proportion is underneath 4% (Determine 4). 9 states (Wisconsin, Ohio, Mississippi, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, West Virginia, and North Dakota) have not up to 0.5% of non-pediatric physicians opting out of Medicare.


This research presentations {that a} very small proportion of non-pediatric physicians are opting-out of Medicare, very similar to prior analyses relationship again to 2013. Particularly, psychiatrists have the easiest opt-out charges and are disproportionately represented amongst physicians who’ve opted out of Medicare in 2023. That is in step with previous analyses that discovered that psychiatrists are much less most likely than different doctor specialties to simply accept new sufferers with Medicare or personal insurance coverage, suggesting that psychiatrists would possibly like to be paid without delay from sufferers quite than insurers, to keep away from the executive burden and feature the versatility to rate upper charges.

This research additionally unearths little state-level variation within the % of physicians opting-out, with nearly all states having decide out charges underneath 2%. In spite of questions on whether or not decrease charges in Medicare relative to non-public insurance coverage would possibly discourage physicians from seeing Medicare sufferers, only a few physicians are opting for to decide out of Medicare, which may well be defined by means of a number of elements. The getting old of the U.S inhabitants, and as a result, the rise in collection of Medicare beneficiaries, implies that for plenty of physicians, older adults with Medicare protection account for a moderately huge proportion in their affected person inhabitants and revenues. For those physicians, the lack of earnings as a consequence of opting out of Medicare could be considerable, however the adaptation in price charges between Medicare and personal insurance coverage or self-pay. Different elements, reminiscent of physician-level traits (e.g., years of train and age), practice-level traits (e.g., solo as opposed to staff practices), and patient-level elements (e.g., reasonable source of revenue of people in a space) may additionally play a task in doctor decision-making.

Nancy Ochieng is with KFF. Gabrielle Clerveau was once with KFF on the time this temporary was once written.

This research makes use of Medicare opt-out affidavit records from the Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Services and products (CMS), as of June 2023 ( The scope of this research was once restricted to non-pediatric physicians, given its Medicare focal point, in addition to a choose staff of alternative clinicians with doctorates: optometrists, oral surgical procedure, and podiatrists. Subsequently, pediatricians and different non-physician consultants, reminiscent of qualified nurse midwives, medical social staff, and doctor assistants, had been excluded from the full collection of opt-out physicians. Of observe, whilst some clinicians beneath the oral surgical procedure uniqueness staff may additionally dangle a scientific level (MD or DO), for the aim of our research, this research grouped those physicians in response to the principle uniqueness (oral surgical procedure) related to their Nationwide Supplier Identifier (NPI) in CMS’ opt-out record.

This research acquired records at the collection of energetic allopathic and osteopathic physicians by means of uniqueness and state from Redi-data, Inc, which makes use of records from the American Scientific Affiliation (AMA) Doctor Masterfile. One limitation of this research is that because of records supply boundaries, it was once no longer imaginable to exclude energetic physicians in skilled process instead of affected person care, reminiscent of analysis and management.

The particular doctor uniqueness teams known on this research had been decided on in the event that they had been incorporated within the checklist of opt-out suppliers equipped by means of CMS.  With the intention to acquire a extra entire image of the distribution of opt-out suppliers in every uniqueness class, this research grouped some subspecialties beneath a broader uniqueness class, in step with the uniqueness cross-walk equipped by means of Redi-Knowledge, Inc.

In particular, anesthesiology contains ache control as a subspecialty, obstetrics/gynecology contains reproductive endocrinology, and preventive medication contains occupational medication. The uniqueness staff of inside medication contains the next subspecialties: inside medication (no longer differently specified), crucial care medication, gastroenterology, hematology, hospice & palliative medication, infectious illness, nephrology, pulmonary illness, and rheumatology. The “surgical procedure” uniqueness is composed of the next surgical subspecialties: cardiac surgical procedure, colorectal surgical procedure, common surgical procedure, hand surgical procedure, micrographic dermatologic surgical procedure, thoracic surgical procedure, and vascular surgical procedure. The next subspecialties are incorporated within the “different” uniqueness:  habit medication, plastic surgery anesthetic medication, Physician of Medication, hospitalist, integrative medication, phlebology, undefined physicians, sleep medication, osteopathic manipulative medication, scientific toxicology.


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