Monday, November 7, 2011

Deep Medicare pay cuts could drive physicians to seek sources for supplemental income

Deep Medicare pay cuts may drive physicians to seek out ways to generate supplemental income. Some physicians may drop Medicare by changing their Medicare participation (PAR) status to non-participation (non-PAR). Of course, this will mean that thousands of Medicare patients may need to find a new health care provider.

Another option is for physicians to find ways to supplement their income through a variety of non-clinical jobs and opportunities. Some may wish to explore the world of medical writing while others may carve out some time to do some consulting. Many physicians are already involved in medicolegal review or reviewing medical charts to assess hospital admissions around "medical necessity." Adventurous physicians who have access to capital are starting their own companies (often on the side while they continue to practice medicine).

The American Medical Association (AMA) has created a resource kit called “Know your Options: Medicare Participation Guide." This kit includes tools like the Medicare payment calculator and a Medicare revenue worksheet. What it does not include are tips and suggestions around supplemental income options that may allow you to maintain the same level of income even with deep Medicare pay cuts.

Our health system needs reform, but cutting physician income isn't a popular idea these days among physicians who are struggling with decreased reimbursement and challenging managed care policies. Deep Medicare cuts will probably drive many physicians to simply drop Medicare because it may seem like the easier thing to do. I hope that the medical community will share ideas around legitimate supplemental income strategies that have practically worked for the busy physician working in today's health care environment.

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