The parts of the Affordable Care Act now set to be implemented over the next few years, the U.S. health system is really going to be relying on its primary care physicians. Unfortunately, a quarter of them are in financial trouble.
According to QuantiaMD’s Physician Wellbeing Index, 26% of primary care physicians are reporting being in poor financial health, the main causes of which are financial instability, mounting professional challenges and a dearth of incentives, according to the survey.
"The financial struggles of a number of primary care physicians is disturbing news," Richard Roberts, MD, JD, president of the World Organization of Family Doctors and past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said in a statement. "Even more concerning is that health reform depends on having more primary care doctors playing an even more important role in health care, through new models such as the Patient-Centered Medical Home.”
Profits are down for 81% of physician practice owners and 43% reported that they are actually having trouble covering their costs, according to the survey.
The financial trouble of these physicians is the result of a perfect storm in a way. The top negative financial impact to their practices is a decrease in reimbursement (80%), but the second most negative impact is a rise in operating costs (71%).
About half (49%) of employed primary care physicians reported not having a salary increase in one to two years, but even more alarming is that 18% have experienced salary cuts.
“If financial challenges dissuade young physicians from entering careers in primary care or cause established primary care physicians to leave their practices, will there be enough primary care doctors for the influx of patients expected to enter the system?" Roberts asked.