Medicare Physician Services: Utilization Trends Indicate Sustained Beneficiary Access with High and Growing Levels of Service in Some Areas of the Nation, Report to the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 4MB]

"Congress, policy analysts, and groups representing physicians have raised questions about beneficiary access to Medicare physician services. At the same time, high levels of spending for health care in some parts of the country, and rapid increases in spending for physician services, have been identified as factors that threaten the long-term fiscal sustainability of the Medicare program. GAO was asked to assess beneficiary access to physician services and to identify indicators of potential overutilization of physician services. In this report, GAO (1) examines whether, from 2000 through 2008, beneficiaries had problems accessing physician services; (2) identifies areas of the country in which Medicare beneficiaries are potentially overserved by physicians; and (3) describes characteristics that distinguish the potentially overserved areas from other areas in the nation. GAO analyzed the most recent data available from several sources, including an annual Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) survey of fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries, Medicare physician claims for services provided in April of each year from 2000 through 2008, the Health Resources and Services Administration's Area Resource File, and the U.S. Census Bureau."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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