With the passage of ‘Obamacare’ came the prospective hopes of a new system designed to incorporate an estimated 30 million uninsured Americans into the health care system. But now, physicians practicing privately for decades are closing their doors. While most patients are praising the forthcoming ‘change’ to the pre-existing way of the healthcare machine doing its business, many doctors are weary of an already diminished reimbursement infrastructure that has already caused doctors to simply not accept Medicaid due the rising costs of practice overhead with concurrent lowering of procedural reimbursement.
What we are starting to see are physicians simply closing their doors to what they have done for decades to either be absorbed back into the hospital-based system of practice or just retiring early. The uncertainty of Legislation to accompany ‘Obamacare’ or the ‘Affordable Care Act’ is seen as too much of a risk for doctors to continue to deliver care while remaining profitable. For some, it may not be worth that risk.
This potential tension may put an already imbalanced ratio of healthcare professionals to patients past its tipping point for a system that is already incapable of delivering adequate care and resources to now exponentially growing pool of the newly insured.
Many doctors are turning to alternative ways of sustaining their business by steering clear of new legislation. The growing popularity of ‘Pay as you go’ healthcare is a system bypassing insurance and Medicaid completely. Doctors are lowering the prices charged for services because in doing so patients can afford to pay for the for what they need because the prices are no longer inflated to reflect previous negotiated reimbursement agreements between the physician and the insurance carriers.
According to some physicians “business is booming and patients couldn’t be happier” - with the newly introduced system. Time will tell ultimately how ‘Obamacare’ and the Affordable Health Care Act will change the face of private medical practice, as we know it.
By: Kevin Kleiner, M.B.S.