The Deteriorating State of Healthcare

Obviously health care is a hot topic right now. President Obama has ushered in Obamacare, and healthcare reform continues to be a talking point throughout this election year. No matter where you stand on the issue, I believe it’s important that you know where the physicians who are seeing and treating you stand on the issue. Please hear me when I say this post isn’t about being a Republican or a Democrat. I rarely, if ever, get political on my blog, and my hope is that today won’t be any different.

First, I want to share a conversation several Egoscue clinic owners had with Pete Egoscue a few years ago about the future of healthcare. Pete said that he had been contacted by, and met with, six orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons about how we at Egoscue conduct business. They essentially wanted to know how we could pull off not accepting insurance and have our clients pay up-front for the services that we provide. They were exploring the option of a direct-pay-type model–We’ll provide the services, and you pay us, rather than the insurance company. They were fed up with working harder and making less money.

One physician shared that over the 10 previous years his client base had increased by 33%. His schedule was completely full, and he literally couldn’t take any other patients. While that sounds like a great problem to have, there’s a “but” to this story. Although his client load was up 33%, he was actually making 50% less than he was 10 years before. He was working 1/3 harder and making half of his salary. That just doesn’t add up. And, keep in mind, this was several years ago, pre-Obama/Obamacare. Like I said in the beginning, this isn’t a Republican vs. Democrat debate. This isn’t a debate at all, actually. I’m simply shedding light on what I believe is a broken system, regardless of who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For the above physician, he commented that “everything is a fight” with insurance companies. He was having to fight extremely hard to get paid/reimbursed by the insurance providers, and what he was getting paid was half of what he was getting paid just a few years earlier.

Don’t get me wrong–I think it’s a great idea that everyone have access to healthcare. I think it’s extremely unfortunate that there are some of you reading this who can’t get covered because of preexisting conditions. However, what scares me about a government-run healthcare system, whether it’s Obamacare or Romneycare is irrelevant (the Obama plan is essentially the same plan that Romney originally introduced in Massachusetts, so again, I’m NOT getting political/partisan), is the potential that the system being asked to support an estimated 23 million more Americans could be drastically understaffed. 

In a 2009 survey of nearly 1400 physicians, 45% said they would consider leaving the field or retiring if a government-run healthcare system was put in place. How scary is THAT! Nearly one-in-two doctors would quit. That doctor who you really like? Flip a coin as to whether they’ll still be practicing when you’re ready to schedule with them, your odds are basically 50-50.

But that was three years ago. In an updated survey conducted just two months ago in June of 2012, that percentage had increased, and it wasn’t by a small amount. According to a survey of nearly 700 physicians, 83% of physicians would consider quitting. Not 50%, not 60%, not even 75%…83%! Are you kidding me? Seventeen out of every 100 physicians would stick around? Those are staggering, jaw-dropping, extremely scary numbers. And they’re expected to see an additional 23 million Americans. Good luck with that.

Here are some other key findings from the June 2012 survey:

  • 90% say the medical system is on the WRONG TRACK
  • 83% say they are thinking about QUITTING
  • 61% say the system challenges their ETHICS
  • 85% say the patient-physician relationship is in a TAILSPIN
  • 65% say GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT is most to blame for current problems
  • 72% say individual insurance mandate will NOT result in improved access care
  • 49% say they will STOP accepting Medicaid patients
  • 74% say they will STOP ACCEPTING Medicare patients, or leave Medicare completely
  • 52% say they would rather treat some Medicaid/Medicare patient for FREE
  • 57% give the AMA a FAILING GRADE representing them
  • 1 out of 3 doctors is HESITANT to voice their opinion
  • 2 out of 3 say they are JUST SQUEAKING BY OR IN THE RED financially
  • 95% say private practice is losing out to CORPORATE MEDICINE
  • 80% say DOCTORS/MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS are most likely to help solve things
  • 70% say REDUCING GOVERNMENT would be single best fix.

The 2012 study had some other interesting findings. An overwhelming number of doctors believe that if you, the patient/client, would take charge and take responsibility, you would get better, faster:

Doctors say that many problems in health care could be fixed if patients would get more involved, take more responsibility for their health, and pay for their care themselves instead of asking doctors and other medical professionals to file the insurance claims and wait for payments. “More patient involvement” was ranked as a “most important” factor by 68%, just behind reducing government regulations and mandates.

“Patients would be more thoughtful consumers if they had more ‘skin’ in paying for health care. This is why lots of patients who never took generics are now taking them.” (OB/GYN, OH)

“Patients need to take responsibility for their own good health. They should not believe that they can live any lifestyle they desire and have others pay for their health misfortunes that result from this lifestyle.”

(Anesthesiologist, TX)

“The best chance for controlling cost is limiting government interference and increasing patient responsibility for cost. If the patient pays at time of service and files an insurance claim on their own, it reduces the likelihood of superfluous utilization, AND reduces insurance company denials since the patient is following up on their own claim. Also, removing insurance purchasing from employers makes insurers responsible to policy holder, not employers.” (General Surgeon, GA)

Those of you who have received services from an Egoscue clinic will find this model to be a familiar one. It’s our model. That’s exactly what we do. You pay for care yourself. We don’t file with your insurance (although you can at a later time). And, your involvement in the healing process is key, critical actually, to you getting better. YOU take control of your health. YOU have homework (exercises) to do between visits. YOU tell us what exercises work the best for YOUR body. And we have a 95% success rate for over 40 years now. Coincidence? Hardly.

While a government-run plan sounds like a good idea, apparently your doctor has a bad feeling about it. I believe it’s time for a change. It’s time for YOU to take control. It’s time for YOU to take more responsibility. I took responsibility in January of 1995 when I first stepped foot into an Egoscue clinic. In terms of my health, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. The key being that I made the decision. The question is, will you?

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on the current state of healthcare?