More than a quarter of physicians in practices of 10 or fewer health professionals will close their practice in the next year due to financial pressures according to a survey done by MDLinx. In contrast, only 13% of doctors in larger practices felt the pinch with a decrease in income.
Fifteen thousand doctors registered in the medical news website MDLinx and there was a response from 673 members. Despite almost half of these doctors from small practices stating that both services and staff were slated to be cut in order to decrease operating expenses, a full fifth of them had to take loans to cover expenses and almost a quarter stated that they used personal savings.
According to Stephen Smith, the chief marketing officer at MDLinx, “physicians have had missiles raining in on their practices at an increasing pace- the economy, regulations, paperwork, medicament asthme ventoline insurance, lawsuits, etc.” Three-quarters of their income was derived by Medicare payments according to 56% of respondents.
With the threat of Medicare payments slashing by 27% does take place next year, 7% said they would be forced to close their practices and 61% admitted to the need for more service cuts.
The outcome of this survey confirms the trend for new medical graduates becoming hospitalists or joining big practices and large health corporations. This will play havoc on small communities where the small practice (like Marcus Welby) was the lifeline to health in the area.
As Smith says, the outcome that the survey strongly implies, “would mean longer drives to less-personal, higher-cost medical care for millions of Americans.”
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