Obamacare: Don't forget the doctors
Amid all the hullabaoo over the stinky healthcare.gov website and skyrocketing premiums that marked the rollout of Obamacare, there is one very important group to the vitality and viability of the US healthcare system who has been largely ignored.
Physicians are fearing the onset of Obamacare, with many of them believing they won't be able to make enough money to remain in practice.
New York Post:
New York doctors are feeling queasy about ObamaCare - and many won't participate in the new national insurance program because they fear they'll go broke, The Post has learned.
"ObamaCare is going to send me more patients to see and then cut the payments to provide the care - that's what's going to happen," predicted Donald Moore, a primary-care doctor in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. "I will not accept it."
Moore claims that President Obama made a big mistake by requiring uninsured residents to obtain medical coverage from for-profit insurers through the ObamaCare health exchanges instead of through public health programs like Medicaid.
Under tremendous pressure to keep costs down and profits up, Moore said he's concerned that commercial insurers will pay doctors less for patient visits and services than either Medicaid or Medicare.
Many doctors, he argues, won't be able to cover their costs with such skimpy fees.
Moore scoffed, "Who's going to sustain the losses? The insurance companies? It's basically going to be a race to the bottom."
Despite a much publicized rollout, many other doctors said they haven't decided whether to become ObamaCare providers, because they haven't been notified by insurers or the state about reimbursement rates.
"I have not spoken with anyone who has made a decision to participate in the exchanges. We simply don't have any information about which we can make a decision," said Dr. Paul Orloff, president of the New York County Medical Society.
"We have no idea what the reimbursements will be or what the claims-form process will entail."
The Medical Society of New York State is conducting a survey of doctor concerns about the program and asking whether they will accept patients who buy policies.
"There's a real question about how many doctors will participate. Doctors are concerned about being left holding the bag," said Sam Unterricht, an ophthalmologist and the president of the state medical society.
The clumsy launch of ObamaCare in New York and elsewhere - with computer glitches and sketchy information - worries the medical community, he said.
"It's really shaky right now," Unterricht said.
There are some options for these practioners. They could join larger physician groups or a hospital staff that would more or less guarantee them income. They could choose so-called "concierge" practices where patients pay an annual fee for quality care.
Or, they can opt out entirely and quit practicing medicine. According to one study, the US needs 52,000 more physicians by 2025 to deal with the massive increase in people taking advantage of the health care system. It would be calamitous if this option was chosen by a significant number of doctors.