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Young physicians pessimistic about US health care system under ObamaCare

We already have a physician shortage in this country.  And with the passage of ObamaCare, it is likely to get worse.  

According to a survey, young physicians (below the age of 40) are pessimistic about the future due to the increased “involvement of government” that ObamaCare promises.

An overview of young physicians in the survey revealed:

- The typical younger physician in this survey is 37 years of age and is an employee of a medical group; with the largest single segment being employees of small groups (6 or fewer physicians):  58% are employees of medical groups, and almost half of those (48%) are with the smaller groups.  In contrast, 26% are with mid-sized groups (with 7 to 12 physicians), and 26%
are with larger groups (13-plus physicians).

- These physicians are markedly pessimistic regarding the future of the U.S. healthcare system, with the “new healthcare legislation” ranking as a strong #1 reason for the pessimism.  Many voice considerable cynicism with (what several call) “government’ involvement.”

- Financial-related considerations play a key role in the choice of practice/ arrangement.  Most cite “income/cash flow” and “employment security” as factors influencing their current arrangement.  And among the 27% who changed (or considered changing) their practice/arrangement in the past year, the leading reason given related to “financial issues.”

- The vast majority express satisfaction with their current practice /arrangement (with 35% saying they are “highly satisfied,” and another 45% saying they are “somewhat satisfied”); and most expect to stay with the current practice/ arrangement for 8 years or more.  Many (39%) aspire to some form of ownership position in the future (as either sole owner or partner).

There’s a reason for the marked pessimism.  They’ve already had to deal with government involvement at the level it now exists and their experience with doing so gives them no confidence that further involvement will lead to any sort of improvement.  Quite the contrary they apparently feel it will lead to a degradation in the quality of medicine practiced and an increase in the bureaucratic meddling they’ll have to endure.

Note the satisfaction index with the current system (80% highly or somewhat satisfied).  And note also the fact that many aspire to some form of ownership position in the future.  I’d put forth a guess that the 39% so aspiring see such a dream as threatened by further government involvement.

As to their pessimism about ObamaCare, the survey says:

These young physicians exhibit considerable pessimism regarding the future of the U.S. healthcare system:

-  When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, 49% believe the impact on their practice will be negative, vs. only 23% who believe it will be positive.  Among the three practice-types, the Primary Care physicians exhibited somewhat less pessimism vs. the other two segments:  They were a bit more likely to be “positive” or “neutral,” a bit less likely to be negative. 

-  And well over half (57%) are pessimistic about the future of the U.S. healthcare system (with over 30% saying they’re “highly pessimistic”).  In contrast, only 4% are “highly optimistic,” and 18% who are “somewhat optimistic”.  When asked (open-ended) reasons for their pessimism, responses covered a wide spectrum of negatives – with the “new healthcare legislation” leading the way.  Indeed, as one peruses the responses to the question, the cynicism voiced by so many – with most of it directed at “government” – stands out.

Of course it does.  And some of their specific comments tell you why:

“Government controlled healthcare will be the downfall.  Anyone who has worked in government environment such as VA would know this – ask any vet who receives their care through VA how good the system is!”

“The current administration is only concerned with money and maintaining their power and socialism.”

“Government regulation has too many strings attached.  (It) has not been well thought out.  (It) will bankrupt the country.  (We are) pushing toward socialist medicine.”

“I do not feel optimistic because of all the increased regulatory burdens on physicians.  There will be an increased shortage of physicians to provide primary care and decreased access to care.”

“The very reasons why people come to the U.S. to obtain care (research, quality, availability, cutting edge, good physicians, etc) is being taken away one at a time.  The changes that are being made are not made with the patient in mind, but with the ‘bottom line’ economically in mind.  Not once is the patient mentioned in all these changes.”

“I think the government is destroying healthcare.”

If you read the survey, you’ll find that even the more “optimistic” comments certainly are only relatively optimistic in comparison to the above.

The comment about the reasons people come to the US is the most telling of the group.  It pretty well describes what critics of the law have been saying since its passage.  You can’t have the best medical care available if the focus is cutting cost.  It’s a lie.  And pretending that you can do both is the biggest lie of all.  That’s precisely the snake oil sales job that has been used to justify the law.  But poll after poll has said the American people have rejected the sales job. 

It should also be clear that most young physicians have as well.  They are not optimistic about the future of US health care.

And if they’re not optimistic, why in the world should patients who will suffer through it hold any optimism either?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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