Critical to policy planning for a program of national health insurance or a National Health Service is an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of current federally-supported health programs. One program which has been subjected to criticism is Medicaid. A major problem facing Medicaid is the high proportion of physicians who refuse to participate in the program, thus preventing the target population from obtaining access to medical care. A telephone survey was conducted to assess the attitudes and behavior of a stratified random sample of physicians regarding their participation in a Medicaid program. Physicians were asked to identify major advantages and disadvantages of the program to individual patients, to society and to their medical practice. Non-participants were asked to identify the major reasons why they did not participate in the program. Medical specialty was the only significant demographic determinant of participation. Inadequate reimbursement, excessive paperwork, patient abuses of the program and bureaucratic complexity were among the most prominent factors contributing to nonparticipation. Implications of these findings are discussed with respect to the role of primary care providers' perceptions in the planning of future national health programs.
Associate Professor, Department of Health Care Administration, School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi.