It is uncertain whether the Affordable Care Act will actually help or hinder our country’s efforts at creating a better health program for its citizens. However, recent information has revealed that the Affordable Care Act may be hurting small businesses and single doctor medical practices. Many single doctor medical practices have been forced to shut down their businesses due to high costs and have started working with bigger practices to remain profitable.
What has caused this?
The high inflation rate of Medicare procedures has caused an Escondido community doctor to consider giving up his practice. While only 72, Doug questions whether he can afford to keep his business open. Medicare costs had originally been keeping pace with the costs of the procedures. However, in 2002 a bill was passed to reduce costs by 4.8%. This means that small businesses accepting Medicare patients and performing exams and procedures are actually losing profits based on these calculations. While a typical exam may cost $80, the doctor like Doug is only receiving about $50. Furthermore, many physicians are struggling to get paid at all from their patients.
Another major impact that is affecting practitioners is the Electronic Records mandate that requires physicians to digitize patient records. Even after numerous federal subsidies, many doctors were affected by the increased costs of recording patient records including the time spent learning the new systems. Moreover, the mandate did not require interoperability among the dozens of systems recording patient data so one person’s medical records may not show up on another doctor’s system. This is frustrating for both the patient and the doctor trying to record and uncover patient history and data.
For many of these practitioners, their concern is for the patients and increased costs of maintaining their practice. These small business providers want to ensure that their patients receive the highest quality treatment. However, they also hope to be profitable each year so that they can continue helping people in the community.