A study conducted by the Medicus Firm in January 2010 indicates that 46 percent of the physicians today may stop practicing medicine if the Health Care Bill (HR3590) becomes law. The article continues to state this number is highly unlikely. Medicine is a dedicated profession and it is questionable that nearly half of the doctors would choose to quit because of HR3590 and not continue to practice medicine. The President has reaffirmed that you may keep your doctor if you like your doctor. But what happens if your doctor quits?
Doctors and nurses are people like anyone else. They choose a career for a number of reasons including a steady high paying job while helping other people and maybe saving lives. HR3590 promises to add 30 million new patients to the system not including illegal immigrants. The Bill falls short on providing the number of doctors and nurses needed to treat the new patients. A person considering a future in medicine may reconsider their prospect and look for a different occupation. The Bill promises to increase the number of patients for each doctor and nurse. The increase in workload will be coupled with a decrease in payments.
The bill also runs short on tort reform. Tort reform limits the award a patient may receive in a lawsuit. The cost of the suits may be only 1 percent of the costs associated with medicine today. But there are other considerations, which include malpractice insurance and the additional costs of defensive medicine. Doctors order additional testing on patients more for protecting themselves and not the patient. Add to this lowering payments through health care legislation and adding more patients and it may cook up a stew of overworked and underpaid doctors. Will doctors and nurses be able to dedicate the necessary time for treating each patient?
Doctors support some type of health care reform, as does most in this country. However, HR3590 is more about insurance than it is about health care. It will help those with pre-existing conditions. But, we all need to think down the road to the overall effects of HR3590. Having health insurance does not guarantee access to a doctor within a reasonable amount of time. It also does not guarantee that a doctor will be able to give enough attention to an individual patient.
The White House and Congress should consider whether doctors could meet the growing demand when 30 million new patients enter the health care system. Providing health insurance for everyone does not assure health care will be accessible to everyone at anytime.