Dueling Doctor Surveys

A survey that showed that a clear majority of physicians supported some sort of universal healthcare plan got plenty of publicity ink in the national media last month. The survey, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that 59% of US doctors would like to see

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”—Peter Drucker

A survey that showed that a clear majority of physicians supported some sort of universal healthcare plan got plenty of publicity ink in the national media last month. The survey, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that 59% of US doctors would like to see universal health coverage, while 39% were against it. The numbers were in sharp contrast to the results of a previous survey done in 2002, which showed that just under half of the doctors were in favor on national health insurance.

What didn’t stir up much media attention was another survey done by LocumTenens.com, a physician recruiting firm. Although the survey revealed that 63% of the nation’s doctors would continue to practice under a national health insurance plan, a finding that correlates to the results of the Annals survey, the LocumTenens poll also showed that 20% of the doctors would quit practice, either through retirement or by finding another line of business, if a national health plan were enacted.

The results of the LocumTenens poll have serious implications for the nation’s healthcare system, which is already facing a projected shortage of doctors over the next decade. A report from the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration has projected a shortfall of 55,000 doctors in the United States by 2020. Other studies suggest that much of the shortage will be in the primary care specialties, an area where a shrinking supply of doctors would be stretched even thinner under a universal coverage plan.

29%Percentage of Americans with Medicare who say they’ve had trouble finding a physician who takes that insurance.(US News & World Report, 2008)

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