Survey: Universal health care would add to U.S. doctor shortage

Atlanta Business Chronicle
http://charlotte.bizjournals.com

Some 20 percent of doctors say they will quit practicing medicine if universal health-care insurance coverage is implemented under the next president, according to a survey by Alpharetta, Ga.-based physician recruiting firm LocumTenens.com.

Among nearly 1,400 doctors who answered the survey, 63 percent said they would ‘continue practicing like they do today,’ 11 percent would change occupations and 9 percent said they would retire.

In a 2006 report, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration projected a shortfall of 55,100 physicians by 2020. Asked if any health-care reform package proposed by the 2008 presidential candidates should include policies to address the existing U.S. doctor shortage, 40 percent said the shortage is a real concern the candidates should address. Another 23 percent said the doctor shortage is a real concern, but not one critical enough for the candidates to address.

“These physician survey results signal to government officials and insurance industry executives that they must not discount physicians’ potential response as health-care reform is implemented,” said David Roush, LocumTenens.com president. “Any type of reform that further reduces their autonomy and income-earning potential will exacerbate the growing U.S. shortage of physicians.”

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