Primary Care Doctors Want Out of Medicine, Survey

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A new survey of U.S. Primary Care doctors revealed nearly half of the respondents would get out of medicine within the next three years if they had an alternative. The Physician’s Foundation, which promotes better doctor-patient relationships, conducted the survey of 270,000 primary care doctors. Of the 12,000 respondents, 49% said they’d consider leaving medicine.

The Primary Care doctors felt overwhelmed with the red tape generated from insurance companies and red tape. They feel overworked with the burden of paperwork and insurance hassles. More than 90% of the physicians said they devote more time to non-clinical and unsatisfying paperwork in the last three years. Sixty-three percent said this caused them to spend less time with each patient. Seventy-six percent of the doctors said they are working at “full capacity” and are “overextended and overworked”.

What does this situation with the Primary Care mean for health care in America? There is already a shortage of primary care physicians and it is only going to get worse. There is a predicted shortage of 40,000 primary care doctors by 2025 and currently only 2% of medical students are choosing primary care specialties.

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President-Elect Obama is following a mandate to reform health care in America and he has promised primary care for all Americans. Just offering “insurance-coverage” is not the same as providing access to good coordinated care. There is no Country in the world that has good healthcare without comprehensive primary care as its foundation. Specialty care alone is expensive, wasteful and provides poorer health outcomes.

With 42% of doctors reporting their professional morale is either “poor” or “very low” and 49% stating that they plan to reduce the number of patients they see or stop practicing entirely, we are facing a meltdown.

The solution in the short term is to pay primary care physicians more. The Medicare system of physician payment needs a complete overhaul as does the for-profit, Wall Street driven insurance conglomerates. The health-care insurance industry in America used to be non- profit until the mid 1980’s. All but a few are now part of wall street and the need to report quarterly earnings drives decisions that are not in the best interest of communities, patients or our nation. The amount of money that is leached from healthcare and put into executive salaries, perks and Wall Street is obscene.

Until we face the brutal truth of our broken health care system, more regulation and deeper Medicare cuts are only going to make the problem worse. We need an immediate fix for primary care and a long term fix for the health of the United States.

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