So now we find out that if Obamacare becomes law, about 30% of the primary care doctors in America will consider leaving the medical profession. That bit of brightness comes from a survey published by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. According to the Medicus Firm, which interviewed more than a thousand American physicians, 55% of them believe that the quality of medical care in America will decline if the Democrats pass the present health care reform proposals. And, apparently, many of them want no part of it.
Although the media largely ignored the Medicus study that the NEJM picked up, the story is huge. Perhaps as many as thirty million more Americans may have access to health insurance, and the question is, who will treat them?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22% increase in practicing physicians over the next decade, but that will not be enough to treat the universal health care crush, especially if a bunch of doctors now on the job pack it in.
There are essentially two reasons that some doctors are nauseous over Obama-care. First, control. Medical people simply do not want federal pinheads telling them how to treat their patients. The medical profession attracts intelligent, assertive people who are motivated to help others. This is not a docile crowd.
Second, money. Right now, many doctors are already seeing too many patients in order to pay the bills and to provide a decent living for their families. Obamacare does nothing to bring down the outrageous expense of medical malpractice insurance, and it is likely to cut Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Doctors can do the math. Their expenses remain high, their incomes decline. Again, these are smart people who could make good money doing something else.
In Canada and Great Britain, where socialized medicine is practiced, it is difficult to actually see a doctor in some places. Instead, nurses, physician assistants, and other medical personnel fill the need. That is what could happen in the United States once the feds begin calling the health care shots.
Not since the Iraq war has America been so divided on an issue. Yes, ideology is playing a part. Conservatives despise government intrusion in the marketplace, but liberals love it. Right now, however, most polls show the majority have turned on Obamacare. The latest Wall Street Journal poll, for example, shows 48% opposing and just 36% supporting.
So here’s my question: What would Marcus Welby and Dr. Kildare say? These guys usually had the answers back when wise doctors were the subjects of TV programs and health care seemed to be a glamorous profession.
Would Ben Casey support Obamacare? We know the M*A*S*H guys would. Dr. Jekyll might like it, but Mr. Hyde? I don’t know.
What I do know is that many Americans are sick of the whole health care thing. And no prescription on earth will change that.