Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Will Your Doctor Be There?

There is no there there.

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), Of Oakland, California, in Everybody’s Biography (1937)

Nobody knows how many doctors will be there if and when ObamaCare reaches its full potential. 

Some say there are plenty of doctors.  Others say a  doctor shortage is imminent and growing every day.   Still others say what good is Medicare and Medicaid expansion  if there are no doctors there to serve the poor and the aged.
We do know  these facts.  The waiting time in Massachusetts,  where  Obamacare-like reform was enacted 7 years ago,  to see a primary care physician is the longest in the nation.   The president of the California Medical Association, Dr. Richard Thorp, says 70% of Calinfornia Medical Association, which represents 100,000 physicians, says 70% of doctors will boycott ObamaCare health exchange enrollees.   Covered California,  which favors ObamaCare, say’s Thorp’s figures are nonsense,  that 80% of California doctors will accept health exchange enrollees.
We know that Riverside Medical Clinics in California, which has 300,000 in its rolls, say they will not take health exchange patients.  And we know that  majority of  doctor groups in the Medical Group Management Association say they have not made up their minds whether they will accept health exchange patients.

We know that it is estimated that 50% of doctors will no longer  take new Medicaid patients,  and that 90% still accept new Medicare patients.

We know that certain  specialties – geriatrics, cardiologists, urologists, ophthalmologists  and most primary care physicians – depend on seniors for their livelihood.

We know that at least 50% of general hospitals and safety net hospitals revenues come from the federal programs of Medicare and Medicaid. 

We know that more than 50% of patients  of the 2 million now enrolling on state and federal exchanges are going to Medicaid for their insurance.

We know that Medicaid reimbursements are roughly 58% of private payments, and Medicare reimbursement are in the 70% range of private pay.
We know that emergency room visits have increased by 40% in Oregon since ObamaCare enrollment was launched on October 1 2013.

We know that health plans across the land are narrowing the physician and hospital networks with which they will deal. 

We know that the doctors of many patients whose plans have been cancelled and  many patients who health insurance has been switched to new doctors will lose their old doctors and access to hospitals they previously frequented.

As of now,  that is about all we know. 

Otherwise,  we do not know enough to predict whether your doctor will be there.  We do not know yet what’s out there for doctors or their patients.

Tweet:   No one  now knows whether doctors will be there for most patients, whether people can retain their old doctors,  or who their new doctors will be.

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