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Physicians May Vote with Their Feet on ObamaCare

March 17, 2010

The New England Journal of Medicine has conducted a survey among physicians concerning health care reform and the results are no reason to cheer for Obama and his Democrats. The worst number probably is that

46.3 % of primary care physicians (family medicine and internal medicine) feel that the passing of health reform will either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine.

All right, there might be a certain amount of strategic voting involved here (doctors just thinking that they only have to gain from ticking this box, not that they actually think the statement to be true). But assuming that the number is at least an indicator for how the supply side in the health services market will react to an enactment of ObamaCare, this finding is arguably more significant than polls that show Americans in general rejecting the current health care proposals.

If ObamaCare will make large numbers of primary care physicians pursue alternative careers or go early into retirement, patients will inevitably feel the plummeting of health service availability. That’s nothing that can’t be repaired over time, but there will be at least a temporary imbalance. And a medical system that has to rely on idealists to become (and stay) physicians even if conditions are rather unattractive is inherently unstable. Besides, idealism can carry you only so far. If you are overworked and underpaid it’s hard to keep a smile on your face, no matter which profession you are in. And even best intentions can’t magically provide more time and resources for a given number of patients.

H/T Ed Morrissey

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