This is one of the top concerns for anyone contemplating switching to Medicare. In most cases that answer is “no, you do not have to change.” The simplest way to know for sure is just ask your current doctor(s) if he or she takes Medicare. And be specific! Do they take both Original and Advantage? If they only take Advantage, which plans do they take? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, an independent healthcare research agency, more than 9 out of 10 primary care physicians take Medicare.
Statistics help, but what it really boils down to is your doctor’s choices. Just ask. Many doctors allow their existing patients to roll onto Medicare and continue seeing that doctor. But some will not accept new patients who are already on Medicare. This second dynamic can be important when you need a specialist… like an orthopedist for a knee surgery. Ask if the office is taking new patients. If they are, ask if they take Medicare and what kind. You can also get these answers by looking on the physician’s website.
If your doctor does not take Medicare and you really don’t want to change, ask what fee arrangement they are willing to work for you. You can still see them, but you will probably have to pay more than if you went to another doctor who did take Medicare.