Ask Kim


How to Find Doctors Who Accept Medicare

Kimberly Lankford

Start your search online and be willing to switch plans to get access to a bigger network of providers.



My parents are moving from Florida to Wisconsin and are having a difficult time finding doctors who accept Medicare. Are there any good resources that can help with their search?

Start with the Physician Compare tool at Medicare.gov. Enter their new zip code and the type of doctor they’re looking for, and specify that they want to see providers who accept the Medicare-approved amount as payment in full. You can leave the doctor’s gender and last name blank. The search will result in a list of physicians in the area who accept Medicare.

But this resource isn’t foolproof. “We have found doctors on the Medicare.gov list who have retired,” says Elaine Wong Eakin, executive director of California Health Advocates. She recommends starting with four or five doctors on the list, or asking friends or relatives in the area for recommendations. Then contact those doctors to see whether they are accepting new Medicare patients.

If you still have trouble finding a doctor you like who accepts Medicare, you may want to consider switching to a Medicare Advantage plan during open-enrollment season this year which runs from October 15 to December 7, 2011, to sign up for your 2012 plan -- earlier than in past years. These private plans, which offer medical and prescription-drug coverage and provide networks of doctors, may have more doctors available in certain areas than traditional Medicare does. But they also have rules limiting which doctors and hospitals may be used, and have different co-payments, deductible and coverage amounts than traditional Medicare.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.



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