While public opposition to healthcare reform has diminished since its passage, physician opinions are still negative, especially among specialists who see their value to the healthcare system decreasing as reform emphasizes primary care.
A survey reports that 65 percent of nearly 3,000 physicians in all specialties said the quality of healthcare in the country will deteriorate in the next five years. Seventeen percent of respondents believe the quality of healthcare will stay the same and 18 percent believe it will improve. Meanwhile, 30 percent of healthcare consumers believe that the quality of healthcare will improve.
Physicians cited as reasons for their pessimism personal political beliefs, anger at insurance companies and a lack of accurate planning in the reform act. Other reasons include that primary care physicians won’t have the time to keep up with the extra workload, forcing more patients to depend upon nurse practitioners for primary care. When asked who will likely handle the 32 million Americans expected to receive healthcare following passage of the reform, 44 percent said primary care physicians will handle the load and 44 percent said that nurse practitioners will see them. (Physicians could vote for more than one category; options include physicians assistants and specialists, for example.)
Among all physician respondents, 58 percent said healthcare reform would have a negative impact on patient care, 15 percent said it would have no effect and 27 percent said it would have a positive impact. Pediatricians and psychiatrists were the most optimistic, with 45 percent and 48 percent respectively believing that healthcare reform will have a positive effect. They were closely followed by primary care physicians (including family practitioners and internists), although more than half of this group expected healthcare reform would have a negative effect. Specialists in cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, and obstetrics/gynecology were more likely to believe healthcare would have a negative effect on patient care. Nearly 70 percent of surgeons felt so, and nearly 75 percent of ophthalmologists believed so.
The survey, which is ominously called “The 2011 National Physicians Survey Frustration and Dismay in a Time of Change,” was conducted by HCPlexus, a healthcare consulting firm. Nearly 3,000 physicians (more than 900 of whom were in primary care) in all states and all specialties were asked about their perceptions of healthcare reform. The data was then tied to consumer healthcare opinion surveys done by Thomson Reuters.
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*