Here’s a unique aspect to the Great 2010 Healthcare Debate:
As more and more patients can’t pay their medical bills or see the doctor only when absolutely necessary, more physician practices are sinking economically. This factor, much more than government pressure to buy electronic health records, is what’s forcing a growing number of physicians to give up private practice and go to work for hospitals.
David Boles, a family physician in Clarksville, Tenn., isn’t one of them, but his practice is having an increasingly hard time. “We’re dying, man,” he tells BNET. “It is hard out here right now.” Although there’s been a bit of an uptick in business recently, he says, “last year the number of patient visits was way down. What people are doing is they’re saving up bunches of things to talk to a doctor about in one visit. So they’re decreasing their number of visits per year. Patients come in for the follow-up on five chronic conditions and they want their preventive exam done the same day. And if a physician spends an hour with a patient, he can’t be paid enough by the insurance companies to warrant an hour’s work.”