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Younger physicians dislike Obamacare, pessimistic on future of U.S. healthcare

April 12, 2012 1:17 pm by | 2 Comments

Younger physicians take after their older counterparts in at least two ways: They dislike federal health reform and they’re pessimistic about the future of U.S. healthcare, according to a new survey.

A national survey of 500 physicians 40 years of age and younger showed that 49 percent believe federal health reform will have a negative impact on their medical practices, while just 23 percent believe Obamacare will be a net positive, according to a survey from The Physicians Foundation, an advocacy group.

On a similar note, 57 percent of young physicians said they’re pessimistic about the future of the U.S. healthcare system, while 22 percent consider themselves optimistic.

“The level of pessimism among young doctors today is troubling and reinforces the notion that physicians need to be key participants in health policy discussions,” said Lou Goodman, president of the Physicians Foundation and CEO of the Texas Medical Association.

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The results of the new survey serve as somewhat of a complement to a 5,000-physician survey from The Doctors Company earlier this year, in which nearly half the respondents were 61 or older. That survey found that about 90 percent of doctors wouldn’t recommend a career in healthcare, and about 60 percent said health reform would have a negative impact on patient care.

So why are doctors so pessimistic about the future of healthcare in the U.S.? It’s the damn government! (That’s only a slight exaggeration.)

The Physicians Foundation survey posed that open-ended question to physicians, and the survey includes some of those responses, many of which would make any Tea Party member proud.

Responses range from “I think the government is destroying healthcare” to “The current administration is only concerned with money and maintaining their power and socialism,” with plenty of other similar highlights in between.

Looking for a somewhat more reality-based and less-histrionic insight into what’s eating at doctors, I turned to Jason Koma, a spokesman for the Ohio State Medical Association, the state’s largest trade group for physicians. Similarly, Koma also pointed to excessive regulation.

“Physicians are sometimes overcome by red tape, regulations and obstacles that prevent them from doing what they became physicians to do — deliver care to patients,” Koma said.

Koma also provided some specific insight into why so many doctors oppose health reform and listed three frequent complaints about Obamacare. First, the legislation didn’t include meaningful tort reform — always a pet issue for doctors. Second, much of the new health insurance coverage that Obamacare extends to the previously uninsured will come through Medicaid, a government program for low-income Americans that doctors often dislike due to its lower reimbursement rates compared with private insurance.

And third, the legislation didn’t provide a long-term solution to the reimbursement rates that Medicare provides to physicians via its sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula — commonly known as the “Doc Fix.”

“If you’re going to adequately reform the healthcare delivery system, you can’t leave a giant hole unfixed,” Koma said.

 [Photo from flickr user AhmadHammoud]

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Brandon Glenn

By Brandon Glenn MedCity News

Brandon Glenn is the Ohio bureau chief for MedCity News.
More posts by Author

2 comments
crazybabydoc
crazybabydoc

Let's be honest.  Many young doctors don't like Obamacare because they are physicians for the purpose of making money.

1) We don't like more patients in Medicaid because the reimbursement is low.

2) Anybody with a clue knows it's only a matter of time before private insurers start to push reimbursements down towards Medicaid.

3) Healthcare regulations exist because it's 1/7 of the US economy and the single largest source of physician salaries is the US government (Medicare,Medicaid,VA, Tricare).

4) Healthcare reform will have a negative impact on patient care?  Really?  One of the primary reasons hospitals actually track outcomes today is the government said . . . "prove you actually provide quality care or we will stop paying you."

5) There's no meaningful tort reform because Republicans refused to meaningfully participate.  But if you look at states that have had caps for a decade or more (say Texas), medmal still bites.  Intelligent reform that included a single payer system could have included a 'grand bargain' for medmal.  In essence, the government could have become the universal insurer and payer.  Of course this would put private medmal insurers out of business but it's not like they actually contribute anything to healthcare.  It would also mean crappy doctors (frequently sued) would probably have to give up medicine.  Oh the horror.

6) The SGR can't be fixed.  The whole point of that legislation was to REDUCE costs by reducing reimbursements.  Physicians need to stop whining about the SGR.  If we had taken our medicine starting in 1997, it wouldn't hurt so much now.  But just like the rest of the country it's time for a come to Jesus moment. Sure med school, residency and fellowship bite from a quality of life standpoint.  But it was a choice to do something . . . special.  But if you did it to make a lot of money, you must be stupid.  Anybody with a clue would recognize that an aging, sedentary society needs a lot of primary care physicians but couldn't possibly sustain a large number of specialists.  Why not?  Because somebody has to pay the friggin' bill!  It was only a matter of time before bean counters somewhere realized that many (if not most) caths/stents, joint replacements, spinal fusions, etc were a big waste of money. 

7) Fundamental reform in healthcare won't happen until everybody thinks we are in it together.  Our current system mirrors modern America.  A few have a lot, many have enough, many have something and a significant minority have next to nothing.  Obamacare preserves the private insurance market but odds are private plans will: improve services and control costs . . . or enrollment will decline dramatically.  If private enrollment goes down, public (state/federal) enrollment will go up.  Regardless, every PAYER (state, feds, insurers) will begin to insist on BETTER outcomes with LESS money.  Then we will see real healthcare reform. 

 

Now if only somebody would do something about making us eat better, exercise more, smoke less, drink less, get more sleep, drive slower, abuse fewer prescription drugs, wear seatbelts, wear helmets, watch less TV and stop shooting one another.

Alex B
Alex B

The reason why this research was not published in a peer- reviewed journal is because it is poor quality. We do not know the response rate. Without knowing how many physicians total had to be contacted to obtain the 500 responses, we don't know if those that responded to the survey maybe different than those that did not reply to the survey. For example, maybe the only young docs who had time to answer the survey where those that wanted to have their negative feelings about health reform heard. Those that did not reply to the survey may have actually supported health reform. The point is we don't know. Writing about poorly done research, and results that are not reliable, reflects poorly on you.

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