How Do Physicians Feel About Health Reform?

We all know that the American Medical Association has endorsed the health reform legislation currently awaiting votes in the U.S. House of Representatives.  It’s worth noting, though, a survey of physicians that has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The survey, conducted by The Medicus Firm, found that there is a great deal of pessimism in the physician community about what this health reform legislation will mean for their practices.  It even raises questions about the supply of doctors who will be around to treat the millions of Americans who would be added to the Medicaid rolls if this bill becomes law.

Among the noteworthy findings:

•    46.3 percent of primary care physicians feel health reform will either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine.

•    The number of physicians who would not recommend medicine as a career jumps from 36% to 63% when the passage of health reform is factored in.

•    62.7 percent believe health reform is needed, but that it should be implemented in a more targeted, gradual way instead of a sweeping overhaul.

•    Should the so-called public option arise again as an issue, one of every four doctors said they would seek to retire early if a public option were implemented with another 21 percent saying they would leave medicine even if not near retirement age.

Chatter in Washington is so immersed right now in the legislative mechanics of how health reform may or may not gain passage that we’re devoting little attention to the ins and outs of how it might be implemented.  This new survey deserves policymakers’ attention.