Physician Compensation Public Policy

Physicians on National Health Insurance

An Annals of Internal Medicine survey sheds some light on physicians opinions regarding universal health care. Overall 59% of physicians support national health insurance and 32% oppose it. Support for national health insurance increased 10 percentage points since 2002 (49%). Unsurprisingly, surgical subspecialties, anesthesiologists, and radiologists, were the only specialities where more than half of respondents did not support universal health care.

Any economist would not be surprised by these findings. Primary care is not highly compensated now and universal health care would likely not alter this. Further, primary care would likely simplify the world of primary care: there would either be one insurance company (as in the case of government provided care), or it would likely be clearer which treatments would be covered. Further, since there would be no uninsured, the primary care doctors would not have to provide any uncompensated care.

For specialists, however, it is likely that national health insurance will reduce compensation for physicians. Some procedures may not be covered, or will be reimbursed at lower rates. More referral restrictions and likely rationing of care would lead to lower profits for specialists.

Even physicians are divided about whether or not national health insurance is a good idea.

GoozNews has more information on the article.