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Nine Out of 10 Physicians Unwilling to Recommend Health Care As a Profession, Exacerbating Anticipated Physician Shortage

Physician Survey Respondents Indicate They Are Actively Discouraging Individuals from Entering the Medical Profession, While Also Contemplating Early Retirement

Napa, California—March 1, 2012—The Doctors Company, the nation’s largest insurer of physician and surgeon medical liability, today announced results from the largest physician survey conducted to date on the future of health care in America. More than 5,000 physician members within The Doctors Company organization responded to the independent survey, and the overwhelming indication is that concerns surrounding a shortage of health care professionals may be exacerbated by current physician sentiment regarding the profession. Specifically, nine out of 10 physician respondents indicate an unwillingness to recommend health care as a profession. In addition, 43 percent of respondents indicate that they are contemplating retiring within the next five years as a result of transformative changes occurring within America’s health care system. A copy of the Future of Health Care Survey is available on The Doctors Company Knowledge Center.

“The physician sentiments expressed in the Future of Health Care Survey are deeply concerning and disheartening,” said Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD, FACS, former president of the American Medical Association and member of The Doctors Company Board of Governors. “For years, the medical profession has been predicting a shortage of health care professionals. Today, we are perilously close to a true crisis as newly insured Americans enter the health care system and our population continues to age. Unfortunately, we may be facing a shift from a ‘calling,’ which has been the hallmark for generations among physicians, that could threaten the next generation of health care professionals.”

Nearly 32 million newly insured individuals will be entering America’s health care system by 2016,i increasing demands on America’s health care professionals. The result is an anticipated shortage of primary care physicians and nurses needed to care for the millions of newly insured individuals entering the health care system.ii This will necessarily increase the number of patients treated per physician, making it nearly impossible to maintain or improve the quality of patient outcomes. Sixty-five percent of respondents believe the current legislative initiatives designed to reduce health care expenses are insufficient to effectively address the underlying causes of costly defensive medicine. Furthermore, the physicians surveyed expressed concern that the increase in patient volume will reduce the attention they are able to give to each patient, with 60 percent of respondents indicating that the pressures to increase patient volume will negatively impact the level of care they can provide. Fifty-one percent of respondents feel their ability to grow and maintain patient relationships will be adversely affected. These concerns have led an overwhelming nine out of 10 physicians to actively discourage friends and family members from pursuing careers in medicine. Finally, 43 percent of respondents indicate that they are contemplating retiring in the next five years as a result of the immense change that the health care system is undergoing.

“As an organization founded by physicians for physicians, The Doctors Company takes pride and great care in providing our physician members with assistance and health care insights wherever possible, and the findings from this survey are no exception,” said Richard E. Anderson, MD, FACP, chairman and chief executive officer of The Doctors Company. “The response from our membership on the future of health care was stunning. Although we recognized that changes in health care delivery were impacting all facets of our members’ practice, the vehement, negative reactions are of real concern. When reviewing the complete survey results, the overarching sentiment is that current legislation will likely have a negative impact on the practice of medicine and will not address the scourge of defensive medicine in America.”

“We believe that physicians, and other health care professionals, need to be involved in the discussions, and we support our members who choose to become involved and voice their concerns and opinions on the future of America’s health care,” Dr. Anderson continued.

About the Future of Health Care Survey
The Doctors Company surveyed its members on the future of health care, receiving over 5,000 responses from physicians and surgeons across the nation. The survey signifies an unparalleled representation of the nation’s physicians’ attitudes, perceptions, and intent related to the major factors contributing to the transformative changes in America’s health care system, including health care reform. The survey was designed with accuracy and honesty as first priorities. Therefore, a large pool of respondents was surveyed without incentives of any kind.

The Doctors Company conducted this survey to decipher emerging industry challenges and provide support to its membership. Additional information and full survey results can be found online at www.thedoctors.com/future.

About The Doctors Company
Founded by doctors for doctors in 1976, The Doctors Company is relentlessly committed to advancing, protecting, and rewarding the practice of good medicine. The Doctors Company is the nation’s largest insurer of physician and surgeon medical liability with 71,000 members, $4 billion in assets, and an A rating from both A.M. Best Company and Fitch Ratings.

 

i See Congressional Budget Office, “Estimate of the Effects of the Insurance Coverage Provisions Contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-152)” (March 2011).
ii Appleby, J. “A Guide to Health Insurance Exchanges.” Kaiser Health News. July 10, 2011.



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