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If you’re about to turn 65 and qualify for Medicare, take note—you may have to switch doctors. With many primary care doctors not accepting Medicare, it’s not unusual for people who qualify to suddenly be faced with the necessity of switching from a doctor they’ve had for years.Primary care doctors are becoming rare in the US—and because they’re in such high demand, they can often choose not to accept Medicare patients. Because Medicare reimburses doctors at a lower rate than private insurance does, this is often in the doctor’s interest—and with huge medical school debt and malpractice insurance costs, many doctors are under intense financial pressure. But patients can suffer. And with the Baby Boom generation beginning to qualify for Medicare, doctors who accept it are needed now more than ever. If you’re having trouble finding a primary care physician, here are a few places to look.
Your state medical associationMany state medical associations offer directories that list doctors of all specialties practicing in-state—including those that take Medicare and new doctors just setting up practice. Hopefully, this will help you find a primary care doctor in your area.
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Medicare.govIf you’re already receiving Medicare, you can use the MediCare website to find doctors and hospitals in your area. Go to the Home page and under “Forms, Help and Resources,” select “Find doctors, hospitals, and facilities.” Enter your Zip code, and choose “primary care” under the drop-down menu. You can specify the location and specialty you’re looking for, and the website will give you address and contact information.
Check with your community health centerMany community health centers offer primary care. In some smaller communities, this may be the only place where you can get it. Check your local community health center or those in neighboring towns to see if there are any primary care doctors who are taking new patients there.
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