Obamacare: When You Have to Find a New Doctor
Alicia M. Cohn /
Remember when President Obama said if you like your doctor, you could keep him or her? Americans everywhere are finding out that’s not true.
“I have to find a new doctor,” Dallas mom Stacy Wilson tells Heritage. “I’ve been seeing the same primary care physician the last 15 years and I just got a letter [in the] last month or so saying that she’s moving to a VIP program where you pay in several thousand dollars and you get more time with the doctor, more personalized care, and because of that, well first of all I can’t afford that, and second of all, she’s shrinking her practice down to like 400 patients.”
Wilson’s doctor, an internist, is one of many doctors switching to what is known as “concierge medicine.” A survey of doctors in 2012 found that one in 10 plans to convert their practice to concierge, also known as direct-pay because it eliminates third-party insurance. Many say they are responding to increasing bureaucratic interference and uncertainty over insurance and Medicare payments, and some directly cite Obamacare. This is one way for doctors to guarantee a level of patient care, which they fear is being compromised by indiscriminate regulations.
“I don’t fault my doctor. She’s a small business owner, and she has to do what she has to do for her small business and herself before her patients,” Wilson adds. “If they’re going to put all these regulations on the doctors, she needs to do what she needs to do. If that means shrinking her practice and doing a VIP program, then that’s what she has to do.”
Wilson said it’s simple: “[Obama] lied. It’s one thing to come up with an idea and think it’s so great, and it’s another thing to actually know how the system works and what the details would be. And you can’t make promises like that until you know what’s going to happen, and they don’t even know what’s going to happen now.”
Wilson is covered by her husband’s company insurance policy after getting laid off from her own job at an insurance company last year. But with many companies dropping coverage for spouses, the family’s future coverage remains uncertain.
“Doctors are spending a large portion of their revenue, as high as 35-40 percent, [on] complying with administration requirements,” Heritage Senior Fellow Robert E. Moffit explains. “Because of all of the paperwork and rules and regulations and guidelines coming from the government as well as private insurance, doctors are spending more time with the administration than they want to spend, and every hour they spend dealing with paperwork is an hour that is not devoted to patient care.”
Obamacare is not popular among doctors, and this disruption of the doctor-patient relationship is one reason why.