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Young Docs Worry About Future, Government

April 13, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Happy Friday the 13th. Feeling unlucky today? Judging from a recent survey, a lot of young physicians certainly are.

The Physicians Foundation last month published a survey of young doctors (40 or younger) that found many of them pessimistic about the future of health care—and about their own professional and financial futures. The nonprofit foundation seeks, according to its Web site, “to advance the work of practicing physicians and to improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans.” It originated in 2003 from the settlement of a lawsuit by physicians and medical societies against managed-care companies.

You can download the survey here; it’s a quick and interesting read. Of the 500 respondents to the online survey, 57 percent said they were pessimistic about the future of the U.S. health care system (31 percent highly pessimistic and 26 percent somewhat pessimistic).

The main reason for that pessimism: government, especially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Of the respondents, 49 percent said they felt the PPACA would have a negative effect on their practices; 23 percent felt the effect would be positive.

The survey report notes the scathing comments about government by respondents. For example:

  • “Don’t trust government to do the right thing.””
  • “I do not feel optimistic because of all the increased regulatory burdens on physicians.”
  • “Government control is a recipe for disaster.”

However, equally striking are concerns about the effects of financial issues on patient care:

  • “Because the U.S. healthcare system isn’t concerned about the employees or patients. They’re just concerned about the money.”
  • “The changes that are being made are not made with the patient in mind, but with the ‘bottom line’ economically in mind.”
  • “Large amounts of money are being spent on things outside of actual healthcare; CEO bonuses, pharmaceuticals, malpractice insurance premiums, lawyers, etc.”
  • “The focus is saving money for insurance companies not patient care.”
  • “As change is being implemented to a more intelligent system for delivering healthcare, or at least, work to change the current dysfunctional system, it is being blocked by insurance companies and drug companies who have more to lose.”

We obviously live in uncertain times, and uncertainty begets anxiety. Lou Goodman, PhD, president of the foundation, told Reuters that young people are still applying to medical schools in record numbers. However, he said:

What we’re seeing is that once they get out, it’s not what they expected. Young doctors are finding upheaval and transition in the way the health care system is structured right now. … And when our doctors are dissatisfied, we’ve got a problem with the system.

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