Doctors Pan Obamacare in Survey

Half of physicians say health law has unfavorable impact on medical profession

December 1, 2015

A narrow majority of physicians say Obamacare has a negative impact on medical practice, including on the quality and cost of health care, according to a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The report found that 52 percent of physicians look on Obamacare as unfavorable to the general medical situation, while 48 percent say it is favorable.

According to the report, 36 percent of physicians said the Affordable Care Act had a negative impact on the medical practice overall. Only 23 percent said it had a positive impact. Thirty-one percent physicians said the healthcare law had no impact, and 9 percent said they were not sure if it had an impact.

Twenty-five percent of doctors said that Obamacare had a negative impact on the quality of patient care, while only 18 percent said it had a positive impact. Thirty-five percent said the healthcare law had a negative impact on the ability to meet patient demand, and only 10 percent said it had a positive impact in this regard.

Finally, 44 percent of physicians said Obamacare had a negative impact on the cost of patient health care and only 21 percent said it had a positive impact.

"There is frustration about higher cost to patients, out-of-pocket costs, and many high deductible plans," said Dr. Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "Also, it is some patients’ first time having insurance and they are facing premiums and deductibles and not sure how it works and some have to educate patients."

When it came to access to health care and insurance across the country, more physicians were positive about the health law’s impact. Forty-eight percent of physicians said they had positive feelings about Obamacare in this regard, and only 24 percent reported a negative impression.

"We are finding a lot of our members are noticing a positive impact on patient access to healthcare and to insurance," said Filer. "Six of 10 physicians say they are seeing more newly insured patients. Now more uninsured patients are seeing more access to primary and preventive care."

The report suggested that doctors are frustrated by the administrative requirements generated by the law.

"Many providers feel that the amount of time they have with each patient and the time they spend on insurance administration issues have gotten worse," states the report. "Four of 10 physicians and more than a third of midlevel providers said the amount of time they have available to spend with each patient has gotten worse since January 2014."

"There are a lot of frustrations regarding changes in private sector," said Filer. "There is a sense of frustration regarding a lot more administrative work to confirm coverage, who are they covered by, and so there are a lot more dealings with insurance."

According to the report, many physicians are pessimistic about the future of healthcare. Nearly half said they would not advise a young person to pursue a career in primary care.

According to a report for the Manhattan Institute, there will be a significant shortage of primary-care physicians in the next decade due to the expansion of Obamacare, population growth and demographic changes.

"We project that by 2025, the United States will experience a shortage of roughly 30,000 primary-care physicians—with about 16.5 percent (4,950 physicians) of this shortage being driven by the expansion of insurance coverage under Obamacare," states the report.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Published under: Obamacare