A New Challenge To Healthcare Reform (You Try Treating Sickness Without Any Professional Doctors).

“Physicians support reform; in fact, we were the ones leading the fight against the status quo. But this new research shows that doctors strongly believe the law is not working like it needs to – for them, or for their patients,” said Lou Goodman, PhD, President. “For any health care reform effort to be successful, it must include the viewpoint of our nation’s doctors. Their perspective from the front-lines of patient care is critical in determining what’s broken in our system and how we can fix it.”

-Dr. Lou Goodman, President Physician’s Foundation. (HT: Physician’s Foundation)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics informs us that about 660K Physicians treated illness in the United States during 2008. They received salaries ranging from $186K to almost $340. In 2008, prior to the passage of ObamaCare, the BLS projected almost 806K Physicians would practice medicine in the US by 2018. A recent survey by The Physician’s Foundation suggests that this projection may be significantly over-optimistic.

The first piece of bad news involves retirements. 24% of the doctors surveyed expressed an intention to retire or change jobs to non-medical work. This would reduce the current pool of workers by 158.4K workers to 501.6K. In and of itself, this is probably a bit higher than normal; but not a cataclysmic disaster. I assume without too great a concern that the BLS modeled a suitable number of retirements per year in their projected 10 year growth of the profession. Thus the higher than normal retirements, alone, won’t lead to crisis.

But focusing on retirements alone understates the extent to which we could suffer a shortage of effective medicine. The survey estimates that 82% of the Physicians in America consider the proposed fees for Medicare to be inadequate to sustain their practice. 36% of those interviewed stated current Medicare reimbursements were inadequate; of which 33% (12% of the survey respondents) stopped accepting new Medicare patients.

If we can assume this 33% rate over all the practitioners who responded the new rates were inadequate, we get a little North of ¼ of all practicing doctors (165K) refusing to see new Medicare patients. In 2008, 45 Million Americans received coverage. Assuming all doctors see more less an equal proportion of Medicare patients, almost 12 Million Americans lose their healthcare or have to compete to see a new doctor as a result of this decision.

This does not further compound the lost healthcare from doctor retirements. Assuming that about 25% physicians retire, we only have 56% as many doctors taking Medicare in 2 years (0.75^2), this gives us 19 Million people who need new doctors or who lose healthcare.

Medicare is slated to expand demographically to 78 million by 2030. Using straight-line interpolation, I get a roughly scientific guess of 54 Million recipients by 2018. Assuming 702K physicians, BLS numbers minus the projected survey retirements in paragraph 2), we assume 75% are willing to accept Medicare. This gives us 526.5K Doctors who will take Medicare in 2018; compared to 376K who would take it in 2010.

This gives about 69 patients per year for the average physician. (26 Million Recipients / 376 Thousands Docs). With 526.5 K doctors in 2018 who will probably take Medicare, I’m estimating 36.5M Medicare recipients out of 54 Million eligible participants who will get care. Thus, for the next 8 to 10 years, I’m forecasting about 19 Million people who will lose their healthcare under ObamaCare because nobody will willingly provide that service at the prices being offered.

Keep in mind here that I’m being optimistic and nice to President Obama so that he won’t keep accusing me of taking hostages like an Iranian Mullah with hemorrhoids. This doesn’t take into account the number of doctors who will reduce their work rates or only practice on a concierge medicine basis. They told me that if I voted for John McCain that doctors would see rich patients on a personal basis and not care at all for the poor under Medicare. Time will tell whether “they” were actually right…