Now that the presidential election is over, it’s official that Obamacare is here. Whatever your views on this legislation, as a member of the health care community the Affordable Care Act will affect you. It seems that physicians are largely against these new rules and regulations and many of them say Obamacare will drive them to leave their practices. What about nurse practitioners?
Physicians are expressing their dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act. Blogs rant against the new legislation, some physicians have even taken to picketing in front of the White House. Pre-Obamacare physicians were already beginning to express dissatisfaction with their careers. Nine out of ten physicians recommend that their family members not become physicians. 60 percent of physicians over the age of 50 are projected to leave the medical profession within the next three years. Why are they so angry?
Obamacare Threatens Physician’s Independence
With an increase of government involvement in health care, decisions regarding patient care will become more regulated. Physician’s worry that with increasing regulations, testing and patient treatment will be determined by the government rather than clinical judgement. Dr. Rick Schoeling, a primary care physician, says medicine will be “much more of a cookbook kind of thing”.
Physician Payments Decreased Under Obamacare
Medicare and Medicaid already reimburse physicians at a rate much lower than private insurances. Obamacare plans to cut $716 billion from Medicare decreasing physician payments and additional 27.1 percent. Many physicians say it will no longer be worth it for them to see Medicare patients. They plan to cut many Medicare patients from their practices and limit the number of new Medicare patients they treat.
Costs of Managing a Practice Increase with Affordable Care Act
Doctors hate paperwork. Paperwork is tedious and most of all costly. The American Medical Association estimates that the average primary care physician spends about $85,000 each year to complete the paperwork necessary to be reimbursed by insurance companies. Under Obamacare, the amount of paperwork associated with running a medical practice promises to increase making it more costly for physicians to manage their practices.
How Will the Level of Physician Dissatisfaction Affect Nurse Practitioners?
If doctors are leaving their practices and recommending that others not enter the physician profession, who will treat the millions of Americans becoming insured over the next few years? Who will treat Americans currently cared for by physicians who plan to retire?
Nurse practitioners, of course! Nurse practitioners will be called on to step in and fill the shoes of retiring physicians as well as to treat newly insured Americans. Although Obamacare’s pitfalls (increased paperwork, decreased reimbursement rates) will affect nurse practitioners as well, the NP salary is not as inflated as that of physicians and will likely not take a hit under new legislation. Nurse practitioners are used to following treatment guidelines and following protocol-based medicine and will be less frustrated by the limitations and government regulation the Affordable Care Act presents. With a decrease in the number of primary care physicians, job opportunities for NP’s will significantly increase.