Free Markets, Free People

About That Claim That Doctors Support Obamacare

The Democrats have made the claim that the AMA, doctors and nurses all support the Obama plan for health care reform. But if a new IBD/TIPP poll is to believed, it is possible a large number of doctors would leave their practice if the present version of health care reform was passed:

Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found.

And, like most Americans, a majority of doctors polled found the administration claims to be unbelievable:

72% of the doctors polled disagree with the administration’s claim that the government can cover 47 million more people with better-quality care at lower cost.


Two-thirds, or 65%, of doctors say they oppose the proposed government expansion plan. This contradicts the administration’s claims that doctors are part of an “unprecedented coalition” supporting a medical overhaul.

Another fact that should be taken into consideration when the administration claims that the AMA supports their plan, presently the AMA only represents 18% of American physicians.

Four of nine doctors, or 45%, said they “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement” if Congress passes the plan the Democratic majority and White House have in mind.

In 2006, there were 800,000 doctors practicing in the US. A 45% reduction would leave 440,000 doctors to treat the present insured population plus the 40 million more the administration plans to add.

I’ll leave it to you to do the math, but if you can figure out how fewer physicians and more patients equals less cost, better care and no changes in the health care you enjoy today, I’d be interested to hear it.

If the answer is “rationing care”, I believe we’ve been saying that for quite some time, haven’t we?



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22 Responses to About That Claim That Doctors Support Obamacare

  • “Four of nine doctors, or 45%, said they “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement.”

    I don’t doubt that many are opposed to the changes being debated, but I’m very skeptical about the reality of this. ‘Consider’ doesn’t really mean much. Every day I ‘consider’ quitting what I do, too, but I’m still doing it. I’m sure some would do this, but no where near 45%.

  • That seems a bit of a stretch to be honest. People have lofty claims often of quitting their jobs and growing dental floss in Montana. They usually don’t.

    What will be immediate are doctors from Canada and other countries deciding its not that great to be here anymore and just going back home. And school enrollment will be down as well as any professional medical related visas.

    • Well, my floss fields are getting ready for harvesting in about a week and a half. Love to listen to their rustling on a fine evening, almost drowns out the omnipresent dynamo hum. The left over stalks make for an interesting phenomenon once the snow blankets our land. It appears almost yellow.

      Ya Hozna to you and yours.

  • More patients and the same number of doctors is a problem, even if none of them quit. I can spell rationing and a lower quality of care very well, thank you.

  • I agree with Grimshaw and jpm100: some older doctors might retire early, but what will the rest do? A good friend of mine is a radiologist (and no fan of government health care, which “saves money” by arbitrarily cutting her fees). She has only been in practice for a few years and still has a substantial student loan debt to pay off. What other work can she find that would pay so well even under Obamacare?

    All that being said, I don’t think that there’s much doubt that American doctors are NOT generally in favor of government taking over the health care system. They know that the government routinely stiffs them for Medicare / Medicaid payments, saddles them with a mountain of paperwork, and does nothing to protect them from predatory lawsuits. Why in the world would they want more of that???

  • You think an IBD poll has ANY credibility?

    You REALLY REALLY think there is the slightest hint of a possibility that nearly half of the doctors in America are going to quit practicing at the end of this year, when Obamacare passes?

    I think this is a stealth intelligence test for bloggers – lets see how you handle a story like this. Anything other than mocking derision, and you flunk.

    You flunk.

    • I don’t agree with your statement either. I don’t expect 100% or even close to act on the sentiment, but I don’t doubt that number isn’t wrong on how many feel that way.

      Hence it will have a greater impact on those in the US by choice and those that choose to become doctors. The rest are stuck as a consequence of their personal investment in life. Which also makes for great morale.

    • You really should read the rest of the report, though, even if you find that part of the poll to be questionable in its usefulness. The reality is that the number of doctors is increasing at a rate slower than the population that it services, that enrollment is continuing to slow, and that the “reform” being considered is unlikely to have any effect aside from worsening that situation.

      “Free” health care won’t be very useful when there aren’t enough doctors available to provide the care. You’ll still be taxed for that “free” care, though. I’m trying to imagine a circumstance under which that is a desired result. I’m coming up blank.

    • I think you are the one who failed the IQ test. You might want to pick up a dictionary, and find out what “consider” means.

      This is very much like all the left wing loons who promised to flee to Canada if Bush won in ’04. Did any actually go?

      My expectation is that many docs will retire sooner, many of those from other countries will leave, some actual American docs may move elsewhere (like the Canadian ones did who moved here), and fewer will enter or complete medical school. In all, nothing like 45% will quite, but some will and fewer will step in to replace them. The government can then consider if it wants to spend more money to get more doctors into the system.

  • Please allow me to state what should be obvious: Just like mechanics, chefs,and pro athletes, people in the medical profession study, train, and pursue their careers as a means of earning a living. Like everyone else, they strive to earn as much money as the market will allow. No one tries to put a cap on that earning potential,even for the ‘pros’, except in the case of physicians and their support teams. What right does the gov’t have to decide how much any of these people can charge for their services? This is supposed to be a free market society in which ‘the sky’s the limit’ in the pursuit of financial success. It should not make any difference whether one is a great quarterback with a ‘gifted’ diploma from a Big Ten school or a person who has spent approx. 15 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars for an education that allows him to enter his chosen profession.
    The Constitution does not guarentee health care and yet we still do a pretty good job of caring for our citizens. Yes, the system can certainly stand improvement, but at whose expense?

  • It amazes me the letters to the editor that state we need to take the profit out of healthcare. Would doing so increase the number of doctors/nurses over say the next 10-15 years? To think so shows an ignorance of both economics and human behavior.

    For being such a smart man, why doesn’t Obama see this as a supply/demand issue? That increasing the supply of a product/service would REDUCE costs? Oh, that’s right, capitilism, the evil of the world and all that.

  • I know one doctor in the Detroit area who sold his stake in his practice early this year and retired several years before he had been planning, due to the extreme uncertainty and grim outlook in the medical field brought about by this administration. He also strongly urged one of his sons to NOT become a doctor (years ago). The son didn’t heed his advice, I can only hope he isn’t stuck trying to pay back $250k in student loans (or whatever it is doctors finish with) on a $75k government-capped salary.

  • I’ll join in with a couple of anecdotes… I have two good friends in the health care industry, one is a paramedic in New Mexico, the other is an obstetrician in Hawaii.

    My paramedic friend tells me that the hospital where he works, most of the paramedics, nurses, staff, etc. are in favor of a nationalized health care system, but the doctors are generally not.

    My obstetrician friend tells me that he is in favor of socialized health care, and that the real reform needs to take place in medical malpractice suits. Seems to me that he would be willing to take a cut in salary that might occur with Obamacare, as long as his premium for MM insurance goes down.


  • From a well respected polling site:

    IBD/TIPP Doctors Poll Is Not Trustworthy

    I’m flying 35,000 feet somewhere over Eastern Ohio now — isn’t technology wonderful? — so I can only comment on this briefly, but the Investors’ Business Daily poll purporting to show widespread opposition to health care reform among doctors is simply not credible. There are five reasons why:

    1. The survey was conducted by mail, which is unusual. The only other mail-based poll that I’m aware of is that conducted by the Columbus Dispatch, which was associated with an average error of about 7 percentage points — the highest of any pollster that we tested.

    2. At least one of the questions is blatantly biased: “Do you believe the government can cover 47 million more people and it will cost less money and th quality of care will be better?”. Holy run-on-sentence, Batman? A pollster who asks a question like this one is not intending to be objective.

    3. As we learned during the Presidntial campaign — when, among other things, they had John McCain winning the youth vote 74-22 — the IBD/TIPP polling operation has literally no idea what they’re doing. I mean, literally none. For example, I don’t trust IBD/TIPP to have competently selected anything resembling a random panel, which is harder to do than you’d think.

    4. They say, somewhat ambiguously: “Responses are still coming in.” This is also highly unorthodox. Professional pollsters generally do not report results before the survey period is compete.

    5. There is virtually no disclosure about methodology. For example, IBD doesn’t bother to define the term “practicing physician”, which could mean almost anything. Nor do they explain how their randomization procedure worked, provide the entire question battery, or anything like that.

    My advice would be to completely ignore this poll. There are pollsters out there that have an agenda but are highly competent, and there are pollsters that are nonpartisan but not particularly skilled. Rarely, however, do you find the whole package: that special pollster which is both biased and inept. IBD/TIPP is one of the few exceptions.

    • 538 is not a well-respected polling site. It is a left-leaning analysis blog. They’ve basically been doing their damnedest to get Obamacare passed for months.

      • Nate Silver was pretty much dead-on in his analysis in last year’s polling, unlike most of you here. So I’d say he has a pretty good record and deserves some respect in his analysis.

        They’ve basically been doing their damnedest to get Obamacare passed for months.

        So do you dispute any of the claims in his analysis against the credibility of the poll? Or is this just an opinion of his about his site?

        • If what Nate says is true, the poll is crap. That’s easy to say because most polls are crap. It’s hard to ask clear, unbiased, straightforward questions.

        • Actually, IBD-Tripp has had the best record in “predicting” the last four elections.

          Better than Pew, better than Gallup, better than Rasmussen.

          THe poll doesn’t say they WILL quit, but they will “consider it”. I suspect the big factor doctors will take into account is how it all turns out in the end.

          And the majority of nurses and techs now are immigrants. A lot of hospitals are loading up with immigrant doctors.

          Immigrants will work longer and “harder” and put up with a lot of BS and intimidation that locals won’t. Think of the construction industry with a hypodermic syringe.

          • Construction industry if full of illegals who’s next days work is extremely tenuous among the risk of entanglement with the law.

            I work with a sea of H1B visa participants. They’re pretty good too on their work ethic as long as they’re on a visa. They may not have the skill set they claimed to have to get that Visa, but if they do, its fine. But once they get a green card, its just like they grew up next door to one of those “locals”.

  • In addition to the problems noted, Obama’s claim the AMA supports his or any other plan is false on it’s face.

    The AMA claims only about 30 percent (2000 number, may be as low as 20 percent now) of American doctors as members. The organization has struggled with dwindling membership for decades and Obama’s claim is pure adulterated BS.