Physician Survey Reveals that Universal Healthcare Will Intensify the U.S. Doctor Shortage

Source:

5/20/2008 12:00:00 AM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Physician Survey Reveals that Universal Healthcare Will Intensify the U.S. Doctor Shortage LocumTenens.com Says That 20 Percent of Physicians Will Leave Medicine

Alpharetta, Ga., May 20, 2008 Among almost 1,400 respondents to a recent physician survey by physician recruiting firm LocumTenens.com, more than 20 percent say they'll stop practicing medicine if universal healthcare insurance coverage is implemented under the new president. While 63 percent said they would 'continue practicing like they do today,' 11 percent indicated they would change occupations and nine percent said they would retire.

"These physician survey results signal to government officials and insurance industry executives that they must not discount physicians' potential response as healthcare reform is implemented," LocumTenens.com President David Roush said. "Any type of reform that further reduces their autonomy and income-earning potential will exacerbate the growing U.S. shortage of physicians."

In a 2006 report, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration projected a shortfall of 55,100 physicians by 2020. Richard Cooper, MD, director of the Health Policy Institute at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and a national expert on physician-workforce issues, has projected a shortage of 50,000 physicians by 2010 that could expand to 200,000 physicians by 2020.

When asked whether any healthcare reform package proposed by the 2008 presidential candidates should include policies to address the existing U.S. doctor shortage, 40 percent of respondents indicated the shortage is a real concern that the presidential candidates should address. Another 23 percent of physician survey respondents indicated the doctor shortage is a real concern, but not one critical enough for the candidates to address.

Reactions Varied

Among the 17% of physician survey respondents who wrote in an "other" answer to the question, "If universal healthcare insurance coverage is implemented under the new president, what will you do?" were some who said their course of action would depend on how universal coverage is structured. Three percent said they'd adapt their practices or practice less than they do today, three percent said they were not sure what they would do, and one percent said they would stop accepting insurance and go to a fee-for-service model.

Out of 1,379 respondents to the recent LocumTenens.com physician survey, only 5% say the best solution to U.S. healthcare reform is to leave the current system in place. In answer to the question, "What do you think is the best 'solution' for healthcare reform?" physicians selected among multiple responses as follows:

  • Leave the current system in place - 5%
  • Implement universal healthcare insurance coverage with multi-payer reimbursement - 27%
  • Implement universal healthcare insurance coverage with single-payer reimbursement - 23%
  • Implement tax-credit program to allow uninsured to better afford healthcare coverage and services - 25%
  • "Other" - 20%

With regard to the presidential race and which candidate has offered the soundest plan for improving the delivery of healthcare services for all Americans, more than half of responding physicians (52%) said, "None of the remaining candidates has offered a solid plan."

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