Health Reform Driving Away Doctors In Droves

The doctor will not be in—and it’s going to be a problem.

A new, nationwide survey of U.S. physicians shows that 34 percent say they will quit practicing medicine in the next decade, blaming health care reform and economic woes.

Their reasons for ditching medicine were split; 56 percent cited economic factors—medical malpractice and overhead costs—for retiring or leaving medicine in 2012, while 51 percent cited health reform as their reason for leaving.

[See Who’s saying what about reform?]

This year alone, 16 percent of physicians are going part-time, retiring or leaving medicine—or at least considering it, according to the survey conducted by Jackson Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest health care staffing companies.

“Physicians are retiring in large numbers just as baby boomers are starting to turn 65,” says Richard Jackson, chairman and CEO of Jackson Healthcare. “That creates a real health care access problem. Many are demoralized and weighing their options.”

Doctor associations have been quick to voice their opposition to health reform. For the most part, doctors say the PPACA will have little impact on patients’ access to medical care and only create bureaucratic hoops.

According to the Jackson Healthcare survey, specialists showing the greatest inclination to leave the profession in the next decade are: oncologists and hematologists (57 percent); ear/nose/throat specialist (49 percent); general surgeons (49 percent); cardiologists (45 percent); and urologists (42 percent).

“For doctors, there is little reward in this era of high costs, high regulation,” Jackson says. “The future of medicine is not what it used to be.”

The survey of 2,218 doctors was conducted in April, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding much of the Affordable Care Act.