A year before ObamaCare became law, an IBD/TIPP Poll warned that it would lead to doctor shortages because many would quit or retire early. New evidence shows that our warnings were dead on.
A recent report from the Association of Medical Colleges projects doctor shortages of up to 121,300 within the next 12 years. That's a 16% increase from their forecast just last year.
Not only are medical schools having trouble attracting doctors (New York University plans to offer free tuition to its med students), but current physicians are cutting back on patient visits, retiring early or switching careers.
An article in a recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that nearly one in five doctors plan to switch to part-time clinical hours, 27% plan to leave their current practice, and 9% plan to get an administrative job or switch careers entirely.
Another survey found that nearly two-thirds of doctors feel burned out, depressed or both.
This is already having a significant effect on patient access to doctors. A Merritt Hawkins survey of doctors in 15 metro areas found that "average new-patient physician appointment wait times have increased significantly. The average wait time for a physician appointment for the 15 large metro markets surveyed is 24.1 days, up 30% from 2014. "
Getting a new-patient appointment with a family physician, for example, went from an average 19 days in 2014 to almost 30 days in 2017. To get an appointment for a heart checkup with a cardiologist, wait times climbed from seven days in 2009 to 21 days in 2017. For a well-woman exam with an OB/GYN, they went from 17 days to 26 over those years.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone.
Eight years ago, IBD/TIPP surveyed 1,376 practicing physicians across the country, asking them what they thought about the health reform bill Democrats had been putting together.
The survey found that a surprisingly large share of doctors, 45%, "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" if Congress passed what ended up as ObamaCare. (To read more about ObamaCare, click here.)
The survey generated plenty of attention — most of it from Democrats and the mainstream media who desperately wanted to get ObamaCare enacted. They viciously attacked the survey, calling it "shoddy," "out of whack," "ludicrous," "not trustworthy," "shabby" and "garbage."
Turns out it was the critics of the poll who were shoddy, out of whack and not trustworthy.
Subsequent surveys proved the IBD/TIPP poll right, including one taken in 2015 by the Mayo Clinic that found 54% of doctors suffering burnout, and a 2016 survey that found just over half say they participate in ObamaCare plans.
Obama Mandates and Doctor Shortages
One of the big drivers of doctor exits, by the way, is the Obama administration's "electronic health records" mandate, which was supposed to vastly improve the quality and efficiency of care.
It's had the opposite effect. A Mayo Clinic survey found that the EHR mandate is reducing efficiency, increasing costs and paperwork hassles, and pushing more doctors to quit or retire early.
A Harris Poll found that 59% of doctors say the current EHR system foisted on them by the Obama administration needs "a complete overhaul," and 40% say it imposes more challenges than benefits.
ObamaCare continued what had been a long and sorry trend in health care. Government-imposed rules designed to fix some problem in the system instead generated mountains of new administrative work.
The result has been that while the number of physicians in the country has climbed modestly over the past three decades, the number of health care administrators exploded.
(You can see the trend in this eye-opening chart compiled by the Center for Freedom and Properity.)
Driving doctors out of the medical profession and exacerbating doctor shortages was not what Obama promised when he started "reforming" health care. But it is what his heavy-handed government interventions are producing.
Don't say we didn't warn you.
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