Pebble Beach, CA Day Of The Neighborhood Doctor Behind Us Thanks In Part To The Affordable Care Actby Richard Kuehn on 06/20/12
There is a lot of attention being paid to the upcoming decision by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding whether or not key aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be upheld or thrown out. But regardless of the outcome, unfortunately, most doctors agree that pushes by the government and private insurance companies to provide better care at a lower cost is forcing most doctors to join large health care groups. The days of going to your neighborhood doctor will likely soon be behind you. It's a shame. My primary physician quit private practice almost a decade ago. He told me at the time that he used to make over $200,000 per year and have four nurses. At the time he quit, his income had dropped to about $50,000 per year and he had four billing clerks but couldn't afford a nurse. Despite the many press reports about electronic records making information flow between physicians and insurance companies and Medicare more efficient, the truth is, it's still extremely hard for doctors to squeeze payments out of insurers in a timely manner. This makes getting by for a family doctor even harder. The new trend is for doctors to group together and form Accountable Care Organizations. These are groups which bundle payments to encourage preventative care and try to de-emphasize costly tests and hospital stays. Although I applaud efforts to cut burgeoning health care costs, I feel sad about all of the physicians who got into the business to help their neighbors and are now forced into becoming part of a large corporate health care machine. Being a doctor certainly isn't what it used to be.