Will Obamacare leave any doctors in the house?

LOS ANGELES, November 2, 2013 — The mainstream and new media have reported heavily this week on the 2 million people in the healthcare marketplace who are losing their current plans due to Obamacare. Investigative reports by CBS News and Forbes magazine show that President Obama, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Democrats and Republicans knew full well the fallout that would occur when the Affordable Care Act was implemented. These reports totally laid waste the President’s promise of “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”

But the other part of that promise, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” is also proving false. Many doctors are either opting out of the Obamacare exchanges, or are leaving the profession due to the increased restrictions, regulations, and reduced payments for services rendered.

SEE RELATED: Why a free market would work for health care

What good is health insurance if there are no doctors to treat you? This is the question that hardly anyone is asking.

“In my specialty about 45 percent of the ophthalmologist are going to leave the field due to Medicare, the hassles, and the requirements,” said Dr. Craig Beyer, a Boulder, Colo. physician. “That’s what crazy about this whole debate. Nowhere within the debate have they even engaged the health professions.”

Beyer created “Doctors Against Obamacare,” a grassroots effort to stop the snowballing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and put the power of healthcare back where it belongs: with the patient and the doctors of his or her choosing. Beyer has also authored the book Heaven or Health, which focuses on the problem and solution of health insurance versus healthcare.

“Instead of spending our dollars on things that we know will keep us healthy, we spend more of our dollars to fund health care conglomerates (private and government) so that they can control the ‘best’ way to spend and ration these dollars for us,” Beyer wrote. “In effect, by participating in the status quo, we’ve given away our unalienable right (to stay healthy) to self-interested third party payers.”

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Despite the 2009 Rose Garden dog and pony show of the president flanked by white-coated doctors, a good majority of practitioners do not support the law, and are either ambivalent or outright opposed to being a part of the system.

A Physicians Foundation biennial survey of 13,000 doctors found that 60 percent would choose to retire today if they could. This is up from 45 percent when the survey was done in 2008, two years before the law was enacted.

Dr. Beyer put this reasoning into perspective. “It is an all-out disregard of the profession, and what it takes to become and be a doctor.”

In today’s world, that is at least $300,000 for the average eight years of college and medical school education, coupled with an additional four to six years of expense and training if the new physician wishes to specialize.

“Are they going to work for $90,000 a year after what they’ve sacrificed? They can become a computer programmer for a whole lot less headache, and a lot less liability,” Beyer said.

The New York Post reported on a poll conducted by the New York State Medical Society on their participation in the Obamacare exchanges. The poll found that 44 percent of doctors said they would not be participating in the nation’s new health-care plan, while another 33 percent said they’re still not sure whether to become Obamacare providers.

Only 23 percent of the 409 physicians polled — 88 or so doctors — said they’re taking patients who signed up through health exchanges. For a state with a population of close to 20 million, that number is abysmal.

“This is so poorly designed that a lot of doctors are afraid to participate,” said Dr. Sam Unterricht, president of the 29,000-member New York State Medical Society. “There’s a lot of resistance. Doctors don’t know what they’re going to get paid.”

Since controlling medical cost through the Obamacare exchanges will involve minimums and caps, with no regard for a doctor’s experience or expertise, this presents a nagging problem. “It doesn’t matter if you have the most skilled doctor or you’re fresh out of medical school — you’re getting paid the same rate,” Beyer explained. “Why go an extra six years to become an ophthalmologist when you get paid the same as an optometrist?”

According to the Physician’s Foundation survey, doctors are working fewer hours on average and seeing fewer patients than four years ago. If this continues apace, over 44,250 physicians could be lost from the workforce in the next four years.

The country is already experiencing a doctor shortage while Obamacare is looking to farm more people into the system. California is seeking to mitigate this shortage by changing laws to enable physician assistants, nurse practitioners, optometrists, and pharmacists to diagnose, treat and manage some illnesses. But when your life or the life of a loved one is on the line, who would you rather have treating you: someone with less experience and training, or a physician whose training, experience, and knowledge of their profession could make the difference between life and death?

No law can calculate these factors, only a competent, trained practitioner can. Obamacare seeks to create an even bigger chasm between doctor and patient, while driving away, rather than attracting, MDs to the profession.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell is the "In My Orbit" columnist for Washington Times Communities, writes on Los Angeles Faith and Community for Examiner.com, teaches Yoga, and coaches on careers and reinvention.

You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website: (http://asthegirlturns.com).

Contact Jennifer Oliver O'Connell


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