“Is there a doctor in the house?” If a survey conducted by The Physicians Foundation is true, the answer may soon be “no.” According to a recent piece from the American Hospital Association’s Physician Leadership Forum, of the more than 13,000 physicians surveyed, 60 percent say they would quit today if they could.
More immediately troubling, the survey indicates that 52 percent of physicians have already limited the access of Medicare patients to their practices or are planning to do so and 26 percent have already closed their practices to Medicaid patients. That’s 78 percent of physicians surveyed who have decreased or eliminated access patients with Medicare/Medicaid as their primary insurance provider!
The reasons given by the physicians for making this move are telling. They identify “higher operating costs, time pressures and falling reimbursements.” The final statement made in the article asserts that 100,000 physicians will close their private practice doors transitioning to positions as employees during the next four years. In the effort to make healthcare more affordable, could an unintended consequence be running physicians out of the business?
Perhaps the future sadly reflects the pithiness of Groucho Marx when he said, “I’m not feeling very well – I need a doctor immediately. Ring the nearest golf course.”