Survey Reveals Large Numbers of Practicing Physicians Ready to Call it Quits

http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/HealthPolicy/11823

By Peggy Peck, Executive Editor, MedPage Today
Published: November 18, 2008
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BOSTON, Nov. 18 — Nearly half of all practicing physicians, 49%, said that by 2011 they will have limited their practices or quit entirely, according to survey results released today.And 45% said if they had the financial means, they would retire today.

Yet 78% of the 11,950 physicians who responded to the survey from The Physicians’ Foundation said there is a shortage of primary care physicians in the United States.

The survey, mailed to 270,000 primary care doctors and 50,000 specialists, had a response rate of 3.7%.

Importantly, it was mailed from May through July 2008 — before the market meltdown and ongoing worldwide financial crisis.

Among other findings of the survey:

  • 11% of responders said they plan to retire sometime in the next three years
  • 13% said they plan to stop clinical practice but want to continue to work in healthcare in a non-clinical capacity
  • 82% said proposed cuts in Medicare reimbursement would make their practices unsustainable
  • 66% said Medicaid doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of providing care and 36% said the same of Medicare
  • 33% said they no longer accept Medicaid patients and 12% said they would not accept Medicare patients
  • only 17% said their practices were financially healthy and profitable

Not surprisingly, doctors said that interacting with patients was what they liked most about medical practice and dealing with paperwork — including payment issues — was the part they liked least.

And, echoing a finding that has been reported many times in the past 30 years, 60% of doctors said they “would not recommend medicine as a career to young people.”

The Physicians’ Foundation is associated with 20 state, county, and regional medical societies, which funded the foundation with the proceeds from the 2003 settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by the societies against private third-party payers over prompt payment for physician services.

The medical groups associated with the foundation are the Alaska State Medical Association, the California Medical Association, the Connecticut State Medical Society, the Denton County Medical Society (Texas), the El Paso County Medical Society (Colorado), the Florida Medical Association, the Hawaii Medical Association, the Louisiana State Medical Society, the Medical Association of Georgia, and the Medical Society of New Jersey.

Also associated with the Foundation are the Medical Society of the State of New York, the Nebraska Medical Association, the New Hampshire Medical Society, the North Carolina Medical Society, the Northern Virginia Medical Societies, the South Carolina Medical Association, the Tennessee Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, the Vermont Medical Society, and the Washington State Medical Association.


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