Sunday, February 5, 2023
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, October 23, 2016
Survey: 47% of Oahu MDs Refusing New Medicare Patients
By News Release @ 8:13 PM :: 4778 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Health Care


News Release From CROWN CARE, October 23, 2016 (excerpts)

Many of our clients request help in finding a new primary care doctor.  We asked Oahu physicians if they accept new patients and found almost a third would not.  Even those who would accept were rejecting complicated or elderly patients….

Data analyzed obtained from Oahu primary care practitioners including family practitioners, geriatricians, and internists were tabulated for the following:

463 of the 479 active primary care practices in Oahu were contacted between 2/11/16 and 8/26/16 and questioned about current acceptance of new patients. The remaining 16 MDs were unreachable despite numerous phone calls and messages.

  • 145 (31%) of all primary care MDs sampled were no longer accepting any new patients regardless of insurance coverage. Of these, 7 would consider family and friends of existing patients and 15 would consider taking new patients at some point of time in the future.
  • 246 (53%) of MDs were accepting most new patients including some Medicare. However, 17 of these stated they would only accept certain Medicare plans.
  • 72 (16%) providers were still accepting new patients with non – Medicare insurance only. They limited their new patients to commercial insurers.  While most of these stated they would continue to follow their existing Medicare patients, 7 stated they would not follow any Medicare patients at all even if they were in the practice.

Of the canvassed practices, which were either accepting new Medicare patients or continuing to follow existing patients, 54 refused to take 1 or more of the following providers

  • Original Medicare
  • HMSA
  • Humana and/or United Health Care

29 were refusing to accept Humana and United Health Care.  An additional 12 practices would accept all except Humana and 7 practices would accept all but United Health Care.  Most would still take original Medicare and HMSA.  Most cited issues with payment and responsiveness.  2 would not accept HMSA and 4 would not accept original Medicare.  4 specified Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) plans only.

Of note, Kaiser and Straub employed physicians accept all insurers that have contractual agreements with their employer organizations.  Straub MDs accept Medicare all insurers while Kaiser MDs can only accept Kaiser Advantage plans.  163 of primary Care providers were employees of Kaiser Permanente or Straub.


Our study found that finding a new primary care MD in Hawaii is becoming increasingly challenging.   Previous studies detailed physician shortages in Oahu including a critical need for more primary care physicians in Oahu.

Physician shortages are reported for all fields of medicine.   The University of Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment report found that presented to the 2016 legislature by Dr. Kelley Withy showed a chronic shortage of all physicians statewide (20%).  Although the numbers recently stabilized somewhat there are predictions of an estimated 500-800 provider shortfall in 2020 (meeting of Hawaii Workforce Summit held on September 10, 2016)…

The greatest shortages are in Primary Care.  This is a national problem as well.  A 2012 New York Times article by Dr. Pauline Chen described a survey showing only 2% of medical students were interested in selecting primary care as a career path.   Citing a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr Chen noted that 50% who initially chose primary care training changed their mind and switched to subspecialty training.    Why?  Primary Care doctors work longer hours for less pay and prestige.   Many primary care graduates are choosing to become “hospitalists” with the lure of regular hours without the burden of maintaining a practice and the associated bureaucratic chores…

Compounding the shortage woes is an aging population of providers with the average age of 55 as compared to 51 on the US mainland. (Hawaii Health Workforce Summit 9/10/16).   In 2015, there were 711 providers aged 65 years or older. As the provider population continues to age, limit their practices or retire, the shortage will likely increase.

In our study, 31% of primary care MDs sampled would not accept any new patients.  The 2015 Hawaii Workforce Assessment Project reported 85% of all physicians were still taking new patients.  If we assume the 2015 data regarding new patient acceptance is similar across specialty lines then we are seeing a significant jump in primary care practices closed to new patients (15% to 31%).

Selective Acceptance

The trend to shift away from Medicare acceptance is of particular concern.  Several practices refused to accept any Medicare patients.  The elderly population of Hawaii is growing more rapidly than most US states.  2010 Census data showed a 140% increase (as compared to a 34% nationally).  By 2035, the older adult Hawaii population is projected to rise to 29.7% of the total.  Older patients have more medical problems and are also likely to have older primary care doctors.  As their MDs retire, they will join the new Medicare enrollees seeking primary care practitioners.  With a shortage of Primary Care providers, who will provide medical care to a growing elderly population?

For MDs still accepting Medicare patients, our data shows selective acceptance.   54 practices stated acceptance was conditional on the provider of Medicare and the most frequent denials were for Humana and United Health Care Medicare Advantage Plans.  Providers cited administrative hurdles and delayed reimbursements by the insurers.

Even providers who continue to accept Medicare grumbled about administrative burdens and low reimbursement rates.  The Federal government recently released a new plan for physician payments under Medicare requiring providers to meet additional requirements to be fully reimbursed for their work.   Physicians may be able to avoid the extra qualifying work by participating with Medicare Advantage plans as the Quality measurements will have been done for them by the insurance companies.


Oahu is facing a growing deficit of primary care physicians. The most concerning aspect is the trend among providers to refuse all or certain Medicare plans.   Desirable physicians have limited their Medicare slates and it is likely more will start to do so.




TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii