Tips about using doctors who don’t accept Medicare

Anna: My doctor does not accept Medicare. Can I see him as a private care patient, pay him the entire bill and just leave Medicare out of the picture?

Phil Moeller: Your question is so interesting. Many readers have asked similar ones that reflect concern over how much Medicare can control their health care decisions. While Medicare is mandatory, in practical if not always legal terms, there is nothing that prevents you from seeing a doctor who does not participate in Medicare and paying his full fee.

However, there could be some complications should you need more than just an office visit.

For example, Medicare Part D drug plans won’t cover prescriptions written by health care professionals who don’t participate in Medicare.

Also, if your doctor ever needs to provide care for you in a hospital or other in-patient setting, any fees he charges you would not be covered by Medicare.

So, by all means, go ahead if you wish. But be aware of these potential downsides and develop contingency plans as needed.