American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation

And then there were none!

Posted by Joel Friedlander | No Comments

Let me ask y’all a question, do you think that the group practice of physicians will continue to exist as health insurance becomes centralized?

Now, the reason I ask this question is a study by Medical Group Management Association which shows that 2/3 rds of medical practices were physician owned in 2005, by 2008 that percentage had dropped to below 50%.  It has continued to drop and is probably much lower today.  These physicians have sold their practices to large medical hospital groups and other organizations.  Younger doctors it seems are unwilling to work in groups as well, and most are looking for salaried jobs where their obligation to work long hours is limited.  More Doctors Are Giving up Private Practices,

The point of the article is that it is more efficient and better medical practice for doctors to work in large computer assisted groups.  You will note that recently there has been a commercial running on television that shows a fellow being diagnosed by a doctor with the assistance of an audience full of other doctors.  Will that be the future of medicine?  Will anyone miss the days when a person saw one doctor every time they went for a visit?

In point of fact, I think that the older way of practicing started ending in the 1990’s, which is when small medical practices began being replaced by increasingly large aggregations of doctors working in the same offices.  I presently go to see a doctor who practices with just one other doctor, who specializes in a different type of practice.  I started going to him because he would call me late in the day when I had seen him to ask how I was feeling.  That of course is now a thing of the past, but I still remember when I first went to his office.

If we had true National Health Care there would be no absolute necessity for the doctors to sell out to hospitals and huge medical businesses because each doctor would practice medicine and just bill the National Service.  That sadly is not going to happen any time soon, and by the time it might, almost all doctors will be employees and not independent practitioners.

What is happening will continue even if the Tea Party People and their Republican Brethren get the health care laws reversed.  In short order medicine will all be big business and the small practice will be gone.  It is a way of life that was doomed by its very success which came about with the development of major medical insurance.  When that insurance first came in during the 1970’s all a doctor had to do was send a bill and it was paid.  Many doctors began making fortunes of money, but that only lasted until the about 1990 and the advent of HMO’s and controlling of costs.  After they came in every doctor had to have a huge staff just to process the payment submissions.  That was when small medicine died.  It is too bad; it was a good way for a long time, and now it’s gone.  It meant that you knew your doctor and he (it was almost always a he) knew you.  Now, who knows who is going to treat you.  Whoever it is they probably won’t call you in the evening to see how you are feeling.


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