More Docs Leaving Private Practice
This can’t be good.
According to a recent report by Accenture Health, more physicians are selling their private practices to join hospital systems. The departure from private practice is expected to grow by 5% each year due to health care reform. It’s becoming increasingly harder for doctors to keep up with the new administration guidelines that reform is imposing as well as turn a profit from reduced reimbursement scales from the insurance carriers.
I witnessed this impending dilemma first hand on a recent visit to my skin doctor for my annual check-up. Knowing that I am in the insurance business, my doctor casually asked me if health care reform was impacting my business yet. My reply was that there was no immediate impact but come 2014 when reform officially “kicks in” I could be swinging a hammer again on a construction site since health insurance brokers could become obsolete.
My doctor chuckled as she continued her exam and said the impact of health care reform is already being felt in her practice. She went on to say that she charges $150 per routine exam, but the insurance company reimburses her at medicare scale of about $28 which they feel is reasonable. With the upfront co-pay of $40 that I laid out at the reception desk and the $28 reimbursement from the insurance company, she said she would have to see about 200 patients a day to meet payroll, pay for her overhead and take home a profit in her practice.
She went on to say that if she closed her practice and joined a local hospital here in Westchester County as a skin specialist, she would have a manageable work week, receive healthcare and pension benefits and be relieved of the cumbersome administration responsibilities that she has now. I thought at the time, she was only kidding but it looks to me like this type of thinking is becoming a trend with many doctors.