Recent federal health care reform may be giving underserved patients something to be hopeful about, but it's also giving many doctors a bad case of the blues.
The nonprofit Physician's Foundation recently released "A Survey of America's Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives." The report paints a stressed-out portrait of what it is like to be a doctor in an era of health care and insurance reform. A key concern for physicians is how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is changing how you pay for health care and how that care is provided.
The stated goal of the survey was to provide "a snapshot of what physicians are thinking in the year 2012: about the practice of medicine, about their career plans, and about the current state of the healthcare system." There were 13,575 physician responses.
The foundation says those responses "reflect a high level of disillusionment among doctors regarding the medical practice environment and the current state of the healthcare system."
Here are some of the survey's key findings:
Doctors aren't uniform in their opinions, however. The survey found that younger physicians, women, employed physicians and primary care doctors generally are more positive than older physicians, male physicians, practice owners and specialists.
J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, says physicians may be feeling pessimistic because of health insurance reform and the fact that change is stressful, especially when it involves your job. Under the evolving health care system, there will be more monitoring of physician practices, he adds.
"The fear is they might not make as much money as they thought they might have," he says. "It is not like anything dire is ahead. Change always makes people a little nervous, even good change."
Physicians "don't really want to be measured, yet ultimately we all are measured," Hunter adds.
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