ACA Impact on Future Physician Choices

April 7, 2014
Laura Joszt

In the final week of enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, surveyed physicians offered insights on the efficacy of advertisements and work expectations for the next 6 months to 3 years.

Advertising for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its signup deadline was prevalent in the final week of open enrollment. A large majority of physicians reported seeing at least one ad, but a much smaller majority felt the ads were effective.

More than 600 physicians were surveyed in the final week before the ACA’s signup deadline and nearly 90% not only saw ads for the healthcare legislation, but actually saw more than one of them. More than 80% watched ads on TV, but just fewer than 60% felt the ads were at least somewhat effective.

Accurately, physicians surveyed reported that the target audience for these ads was mostly the young and uninsured. According to the Obama administration, $52 million was spent on media during the first 3 months of 2014 alone in support of increasing enrollment for the ACA, which led to 7.1 million sign ups at the deadline.

According to Mathew Baker, vice president of Physician Recruitment Advertising for MDLinx Career Center, the overall sentiment as viewed by MDLinx reveals expectations that the amount of physicians looking for new positions will increase significantly over the next few years.

The survey also gauged perception on how the ACA will affect medical practices in the long-term and more than 70% of respondents said a major impact would be decreased physician interest in private practice ownership over the next 3 years. They are expecting more physicians will choose employment in another group practice or hospital.

“There is a common theme that with the ACA in place, physicians will have increased patient load, less time per patient, with lower reimbursements,” Baker said in a statement. “More physicians choosing employee status rather than practice ownership, could then suggest a significant upswing in physicians looking for new positions over the next few years.”

The survey found that most (84%) but not all physicians believe the ACA will impact their practice in the next half a year. More than half of respondents are expecting lower reimbursements and more than a third are expecting that as a result of the ACA they will see more patients by spending less time on each patient.

Perhaps, expecting the same, patients have an overall negative sentiment regarding healthcare changes, according to the physician respondents. Of the doctors surveyed, 56% reported that their patients believe the ACA will negatively impact healthcare and just 10% think the changes will be mostly positive.

In discussions among other healthcare professionals, two-thirds said conversations with practice colleagues and staff revealed mostly negative expectations for changes brought on by the ACA. Just 7% of these conversations were positive.