Study: ObamaCare will make doctor shortage 50% worse by 2015
posted at 1:36 pm on October 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
More good news on what we found out about ObamaCare after its passage comes from two different sources today. First, a new study by the Association of American Medical Colleges and reported by Reuters shows that the bill will have a big impact on an expected shortage of physicians over the next few years — by amplifying it:
The U.S. healthcare reform law will worsen a shortage of physicians as millions of newly insured patients seek care, the Association of American Medical Colleges said on Thursday.
The group’s Center for Workforce Studies released new estimates that showed shortages would be 50 percent worse in 2015 than forecast.
“While previous projections showed a baseline shortage of 39,600 doctors in 2015, current estimates bring that number closer to 63,000, with a worsening of shortages through 2025,” the group said in a statement.
The artificial cap on reimbursements — a form of price-fixing — will be the main culprit. With education becoming more and more expensive, physicians need to recoup their investment in it from plying their trade. Unfortunately, government reimbursement schedules will force payments down through the entire industry, making specializations in areas that have Medicare or Medicaid implications much less attractive. Those who can choose specialties will be more likely to go into cosmetic surgery, Lasik, and other areas where third-party payer structures are not an issue.
Speaking of third-party payers, another insurance company has called it quits ahead of the ObamaCare mandates. Six more Iowa companies may follow suit soon, too. Principal also cut 1500 jobs in Iowa, a rather sensitive state for those wishing to win re-election to the White House:
Principal Financial Group said Thursday that it will leave the medical insurance business, further reducing competition among health insurers in Iowa.
Principal will transfer the renewal rights for its health insurance customers in Iowa and 30 other states to UnitedHealthcare over the next 36 months. …
The decision means the disappearance of the third-largest health insurer in Iowa at a time when half a dozen other small insurers have told the Iowa Insurance Division that they also plan to quit selling health insurance in Iowa.
The health insurance industry is consolidating, Voss said, driven by a combination of market forces and increased government regulation.
The problem for policyholders is that United will have different offerings than those provided by Principal. While they cannot be denied on the basis of pre-existing conditions, United will have the right to set its own terms for this risk pool, and given the upcoming mandates, those terms are likely to be less friendly than those offered by Principal. In fact, it would have to be — otherwise, Principal wouldn’t have had to give up the business in the first place.
“Consolidation” means that smaller insurers will get squeezed out of the market. Those insurers played significant roles in the health-insurance sector by offering plans to niche markets that suited their consumers better than one-size-fits-all plans offered by larger outfits. As in most cases, heavy government intrusion boosts the biggest players in markets by eliminating their smaller competition, whose scale makes it difficult if not impossible to handle mandates and remain competitive.
Lost jobs. Less choice. Shortages. Higher costs. Destruction of smaller businesses. These are all the things that are in ObamaCare, and now that it’s been passed, everyone can find them … the hard way.
Update: Alan Colmes’ bloggers apparently can’t read. They’re blaming me for blaming it on ObamaCare, but the very first line in the Reuters report lays the blame on ObamaCare. Why? Because, although we were aware that a doctor shortage was coming anyway, dumping 32 million people into Medicaid makes it worse, because of the increased demand. It’s really not that difficult to figure out — but apparently they can’t do math, either.
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