(MintPress) – A recent report by the Daily Caller indicated that 83 percent of American physicians have considered leaving the field over ’Obamacare,’ despite the fact that the study cited did not reference Obamacare or its formal name, the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
While the survey is in line with other data that suggests physicians are concerned over a growing presence of third party payers in the medical system, it does not indicate that 83 percent of physicians are specifically thinking about leaving the practice over Obamacare.
Doctors and Patients Medical Association (DPMA) CEO Kathryn Serkes has more than 15 years of experience in medical polling. She said the question presented on her organization’s survey asking how changes in the medical system affect doctors’ desires to practice medicine is a typical survey item when measuring the national attitude among physicians — and one that does not mention the ACA.
Serkes doesn’t deny that the ACA could have been taken into account by doctors, but also points out the high percentage of physicians who are also frustrated by insurance companies and other forms of third-party payment systems.
While the Daily Caller refers to the DPMA in its story as a nonpartisan organization, Serkes said it does take a stand for what she refers to as medical freedom, with a position that insurance companies and government involvement in the medical field places a wedge between doctors and patients. The DPMA favors private practice clinics that work outside the realm of insurance, providing low costs for low-profile clinic visits. Serkes sees the ACA as a step in the wrong direction.
“The problem is that we’re having the wrong conversation,” Serkes said, referring to the ACA. “It extends coverage and pushes people to become insured, or enrolled.”
The DPMA takes the stance that health insurance should be operated much like car insurance. While necessary for ‘major collisions,’ it has gotten out of control, and has been used for visits that should not require such third party involvement. That, in turn, Serkes said, has led to the increased cost of healthcare for the most basic services.
Serkes compares this to using car insurance to pay for an oil change or new windshield wipers. If that were the case, she said, the prices for everything would be driven up.
According to the Daily Caller, a random selection of doctors were chosen for the study. The story does not indicate that 89 percent of doctors who responded were comprised of office-based and and small group practices. Eleven percent of responding doctors worked in the hospital setting.
Details on the DPMA website indicate the organization collected the fax numbers of 36,000 doctors and was successful in the faxed delivery of 16,227. In all, 4.3 percent of doctors the organization reached out to responded, with 699 surveys filed and completed.
Serkes said, in terms of survey response, 4.3 percent is considered legitimate and is in line with national political polling. Doctors were chosen from a commercial list and were not given any qualifying questions to take part in the survey. Surveys were not administered to specific groups of doctors in comparable numbers.
The first question of the DPMA Physician Attitudes Survey asks respondents how “current changes in the medical system” affect their desire to practice medicine. Of those who responded, nearly 83 percent indicated it made them think about quitting.
While one could draw the conclusion that such changes include the ACA, the legislation is not referred to or mentioned — results from the same survey indicate a large distaste by doctors over insurance companies, as well.
In response to the questions asking for physicians to name the top three reasons for less autonomy in practices than expected when they started out in the field, 81 percent said insurance and third party contracts were to blame, while 88 percent indicated government regulations as a problem and another 60 percent also pinpointing healthcare system contracts.
Physicians were also asked to pinpoint the top three problems in medicine, resulting with 27 percent blaming the president, 26 percent pointing the finger at Congress and 65 percent indicating government involvement in general was to blame. Nearly 50 percent said insurance health plans were the problem — third party payers received 50 percent of the votes, as well. Medicare and Medicaid received 15 percent of the votes, while 42 percent of respondents blamed lawyers.
Opposing views by doctors
The American Medical Association (AMA), labeled on its website as the “leading voice for America’s physicians in Washington,” has endorsed the ACA, claiming it will open the door for medical care to millions of Americans.
“This decision protects important improvements, such as ending coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance, and allowing the 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 who gained coverage under the law to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies,” Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, president of the AMA, said in a statement.
Lazarus goes on to state that patients will have access to treatment in early stages of illnesses, cutting back on added expenses incurred when such conditions reach unbearable levels. Contrary to claims made by other physicians, Lazarus said doctors will face less paperwork under the ACA.
“The health reform law upheld by the Supreme Court simplifies administrative burdens, including streamlining insurance claims, so physicians and their staff can spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork,” he states. “IT protects those in the Medicare ‘donut hole,’ including the 5.1 million Medicare patients who saved significantly on prescription drugs in 2010 and 2011.”
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