Market Overview

The Coming Doctor Shortage

The United States is going to experience an absolutely devastating doctor shortage in the coming years.  Even now it can be difficult to see a doctor in many areas, and if you are fortunate enough to see one you will probably pay through the nose.  Medical bills have gotten absolutely insane in this country.  Many Americans have gone to the hospital for a few hours, perhaps got to see a doctor for half an hour, and ended up being billed thousands of dollars.  Unfortunately, it is not the doctors that are getting rich from these nightmarish medical bills.  Rather, "the system" is set up so that "the middle men" are the ones raking in most of the cash.  In fact, thousands upon thousands of doctors are being chased out of the profession because being a doctor just isn't worth the trouble anymore.  According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, we were already going to be facing a shortage of more than 150,000 doctors over the next 15 years even before Obamacare was passed. Obamacare is just going to make the doctor shortage even worse.  In fact, one poll found that 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to get out of the profession over the next 3 years.  Of course not all of those disgruntled doctors will end up leaving the profession, but even if 10 percent of them quit it is going to create a medical crisis of unprecedented magnitude in this country.

Look, it is no secret that I am not a big fan of the health care industry in the United States.  But if I get into a car accident or someone shoots me then I very much want someone to take me to the hospital and I don't want to wait a couple of hours to see a doctor.

Unfortunately, the way that the health care industry is set up today is absolutely suffocating for doctors.  The government is trying to tell them how to treat patients, lawyers are constantly looking to sue them and most of the money ends up going to health insurance companies, big pharma and huge health care corporations.

In the old days, all you needed was a bed, a patient, a doctor and maybe a nurse.

After all, how much does it really cost for a doctor to look you over, ask you a few questions and patch you up?

Unfortunately, a whole host of bad guys have gotten between the doctor and the patient these days.  They have all carved out a little bit of "territory" and they all have to be paid.

The health care industry used to be about helping people.

Today it is all about greed, and the system is coming apart.

As the economy collapses, an increasing number of Americans are being forced to rely on programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

For example, back in 1965 only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

This is putting our doctors in a very difficult position.  According to The New York Post, treating Medicare and Medicaid patients is a huge financial strain on U.S. doctors...

Estimates suggest that on average physicians are reimbursed at roughly 78% of costs under Medicare, and just 70% of costs under Medicaid. Physicians must either make up for this shortfall by shifting costs to those patients with insurance — meaning those of us with insurance pay more — or treat patients at a loss.

You understand what all that means, right?

Medical bills have to be jacked up on all the rest of us to make up for the Medicare and Medicaid patients.

But that is just one example of how the system is failing.

Today, it is quite common for medical school students to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt as they go through school.  Then it takes a number of years of really hard work before they become established and at a point where they can start making good money.  Meanwhile, lawyers are constantly circling them like vultures.  Malpractice insurance premiums are absolutely insane at this point and one really bad lawsuit can ruin a career that took decades to build.

In addition, now thanks to Obamacare and other ridiculous regulations that have been passed in recent years, the government has a tremendous amount of control over how medicine is practiced in the United States.  Doctors no longer have the complete freedom to treat their patients as they see fit.

Sadly, a significant percentage of U.S. doctors have had enough and now want to get out.

According to a Merritt Hawkins survey of 2,379 doctors for the Physicians Foundation that was conducted in August of last year, 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to "retire, seek a nonclinical job in health care, or seek a job or business unrelated to health care" at some point over the next three years.

When Obamacare was originally being debated perhaps we should have taken some time to ask our doctors what they thought about it first.

Now we could end up with a massive doctor shortage as our doctors vote with their feet.

Right now there are approximately 960,000 doctors in the United States.

What do you think our medical system will look like if even 100,000 of them bail out of the profession?

According to the same survey noted above, 74 percent of U.S. doctors plan to make "one or more significant changes in their practices in the next one to three years, a time when many provisions of health reform will be phased in."

One big trend that we are seeing right now is the refusal to see certain kinds of patients.  Under our current system, some patients are much more "profitable" than others.  Many doctors have decided that they simply cannot afford to see many of the "unprofitable" patients any longer.

Our health care system is messed up beyond all recognition.  In America, we pay much more for health care than anyone else in the world and what we get in return is a system that is literally falling to pieces.

It would have been nice if we would have gotten some real health care reform, but instead what we got was Obamacare - one of the worst pieces of legislation that has ever been passed in all of modern American history.

An IBD/TIPP poll taken back in August 2009 found that 4 out of every 9 American doctors said that they "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" if Congress passed Obamacare.

Well, it passed anyway.

Now the doctor shortage is about to get a whole lot worse.

Survey after survey shows similar results.

According to a survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately one-third of all practicing physicians in the United States indicated that they may leave the medical profession because of the new health care law.

Are you starting to become alarmed yet?

We have a system that is broken and large numbers of doctors are now saying that they simply want to give up.

Sadly, Obamacare is also causing the cancellation of a lot of new hospitals.

According to the executive director of Physician Hospitals of America, the new health care law has already forced the cancellation of at least 60 doctor-owned hospitals that were scheduled to open soon.

Not that I am just getting on Obama and the Democrats.  Bush and the Republicans were a complete disaster when it came to health care as well.  Thanks to both political parties we have a health care system that is a joke.

Today, approximately 40% of all U.S. doctors are age 55 or older.  All of those old doctors are thinking about retirement.  They are too old to be putting up with all of this garbage.

It is an open secret that our health care industry has become a giant money making scam and that it is not favorable for either doctors or patients.

According to one doctor interviewed by Fox News, "a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen" will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.

So how much of that $13,000 do you think the doctor gets?

Not a whole lot.

There certainly are some wealthy doctors out there, but the truth is that "the system" gets most of the money.

I am sure almost everyone reading this has a medical bill horror story to tell.

In America today, if you have an illness that requires intensive care for an extended period of time, it can be really easy to rack up medical bills that total over 1 million dollars.

In fact, most Americans are scared to even spend a single night in the hospital these days.

It is estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about 10 billion dollars every single year.  In fact, one trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of the medical bills that she has audited contain "gross overcharges".

Basically, hospitals charge whatever they think they can get away with.  Unlike most transactions, you don't get to see a "price list" first when you go into the hospital.  You just ask them to take care of you and you trust them to bill you fairly later.

Why should it cost a half million dollars for a simple operation?

It's not that complicated - the doctor cuts you open, carves something out and then sews you back up.

So why should it cost so much?

Am I missing something?

Sadly, it is those that don't know how things work that get the worst of it.

It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals to knock their bills down by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured or you don't know how the system works then you are out of luck.

You should always, always have health insurance if you can afford it.  If you do not have a health insurance company fighting the hospital then it can be really hard to have your medical bills knocked down to a reasonable level.

In any event, as doctors start leaving the profession in droves it may become difficult to find quality medical care at all.

Perhaps even more of us will start going out of the country for medical care.  According to numbers released by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were "medical tourists" in 2010.

So what do all of you think about the state of the health care industry in the United States?  Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below....

The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

 

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