In a survey by a top research firm, six in 10 physicians said it is likely many doctors will retire earlier than planned in the next one to three years.
The same percentage say the practice of medicine is in jeopardy as medical experts lose control of their clinics and compensation with the implementation of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, or Obamacare.
A spokeswoman for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Jane Orient, was not surprised.
She told WND that doctors already have started leaving the profession through early retirement. Among those who remain, some will seek alternatives to what they see coming in the federal government’s takeover of health care.
“I think it’s a disaster for patients,” she said. “They may lose the doctor they relied on all their lives.”
The survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that the “future of the medical profession may be in jeopardy as it loses clinical autonomy and compensation.”
Further, it found the health insurance exchanges required by Obamacare this year probably won’t be reality. Many doctors are starting to limit their participation in Medicaid and Medicare because of low reimbursement rates.
Some doctors even close off their practices to such patients, the survey found.
The study said: “Physicians recognize ‘the new normal’ will necessitate major changes in the profession that require them to practice in different settings as part of a larger organization that uses technologies and team-based models for consumer care.”
Orient affirmed that many doctors are unable to continue a private practice and will end up working for a corporation hospital where the profits are distributed to shareholders.
She warned that such scenarios often end up giving the feeling of an assembly line, where a patient sees a doctor briefly, is given a diagnosis and shown the door.
Doctors in that system, she said, will be punished if they spend too much time on a patient, or possibly if they provide too much treatment.
She said the frustration that comes from such scenarios actually is creating the incentive for a counter-trend in which doctors cut ties to the behemoth insurance companies and simply charge a fee to patients.
The survey found physicians are pessimistic about the future of medicine.
“The majority worry about the profession’s erosion of clinical autonomy and income, and its inability to achieve medical liability reform.”
While many doctors are satisfied with practicing medicine, most their satisfaction in the interaction with patients. But nearly one in four said that even now they are not allowed to spend enough time with each patient. And one in five was distressed by the developing government regulations.
The survey said the perception that there will be a drain opened among the pool of physicians over the coming requirements and regulations is uniform among doctors.
The report said: “Nearly three-quarters of physicians (higher among surgical specialists at 81 percent) think the best and brightest may not consider a career in medicine (slight increase from those who felt similarly in 2011 at 69 percent), while more than half believe that physicians will retire (62 percent) or scale back practice hours (55 percent) based on how the future of medicine is changing.
“Eight in 10 physicians agree that the face of the future in medicine over the next decade involves interdisciplinary teams and care coordinators,” the report continued.
And while the report said four in 10 physicians had reductions in their take-home pay from 2011 to 2012, “among those physicians whose take home pay decreased by any amount in 2012, four in 10 believe that it was a result of the ACA.”
Fully half expect their incomes to “fall dramatically in the next one to three years.”
Overall, doctors are critical of the U.S. health care system, blaming problems on a defensive mode that influences treatment and results, the survey said.
Among other results: Only two in 10 doctors believe the government exchanges will be ready to go, 25 percent say they’ll limit their work on Medicare patients if the government funding program continues at it is and most believe unhealthy lifestyles influence the health care system costs.
Orient told WND the problems all generally relate to more government demands and intervention.
“It amounts to busy work,” she said.
A blogger who commented on the study, the Lonely Conservative, said: “Any time you hear talk of a ‘new normal’ you know what they really mean is ‘ongoing misery,’ and it’s always thanks to progressive policies. Heck, government officials aren’t even sounding all that confident that our health care system won’t become like the third world.”