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In ACA’s Fifth Year, Doctors Warm To Obamacare

Written by: | readers@forbes.com | Dated: Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Even as the Supreme Court weighs a challenge that could pull health insurance from millions of their patients, doctors are warming to life under the Affordable Care Act after five years, a new analysis indicates.

Physician recruiting and staffing company The Medicus Firm said physicians still aren’t enamored with various aspects of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement with 16% giving the law a failing grade of “F.” However, the failing grade was given by more than 22% of doctors in Medicus’ analysis last year and even more physicians flunked the legislation two years ago.

Physicians aren’t generally a satisfied bunch when it comes to insurance companies or government health programs that pay them and the health law hasn’t done much to change that given its expansion of the role insurers have in administering benefits via government-run exchanges.

The law has increased the number of private plans paying physicians with new rules and often narrower networks as health plans of all varieties work to keep costs in check by limiting doctor and hospital choices based on cost and quality measurements. Doctors are also bracing for potential consolidation as Anthem (ANTM) attempts to buy Cigna (CI). Meanwhile, Aetna (AET) is reportedly looking at a potential deal with Humana (HUM) or a bid from UnitedHealth Group (UNH), according to some reports.

Still, 83% of doctors in the Medicus survey now say health reform is working, giving the ACA a passing grade of A, B, C or D. That is in contrast to 2014 when 77% of doctors gave the law a passing grade and in 2013 when 70% said the law was working.

“The ACA is not as much of an intimidating, unknown entity, and doctors aren’t feeling as alarmed as they were when the sizable legislation was passed into law,” Jim Stone, president of The Medicus Firm said of the now five-year-old health law. “That said, even with improved perceptions of the ACA, 29% of 2015 respondents gave the law a ‘C’ overall, which indicates there is much room for improvement. Furthermore, many implications and consequences of the law have yet to be seen, so it will be interesting to gauge physicians’ opinions over the next few years as health reform becomes the norm.”

The analysis comes from a sampling of more than 2,680 providers representing specialties in 47 states who completed an online survey. Medicus’ 12th annual survey was taken in April and May of this year.

For patients, it would seem doctor satisfaction with the health law would be good for them but physician turnover remains an issue as more doctors become employees rather than launch their own practices.

When physicians work for somebody else, as is increasingly the case, the Medicus analysis indicates it’s easier for them to change jobs. The survey indicates a “higher percentage of physicians are open to new opportunities” with just about one-third, or 34% saying the will “definitely not” change careers compared to 43% who said that last year.

Source: Forbes

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