More Doctors Giving Up Private Practices

Gardiner Harris
The New York Times
3/25/2010

A quiet revolution is transforming how medical care is delivered in this country, and it has very little to do with the sweeping health care legislation that President Obama just signed into law.

But it could have a big impact on that law’s chances for success…

…an increasing share of young physicians, burdened by medical school debts and seeking regular hours, are deciding against opening private practices. Instead, they are accepting salaries at hospitals and health systems. And a growing number of older doctors — facing rising costs and fearing they will not be able to recruit junior partners — are selling their practices and moving into salaried jobs, too…

…For older doctors, the change away from private practice can be wrenching, and they are often puzzled by younger doctors’ embrace of salaried positions.

“When I was young, you didn’t blink an eye at being on call all the time, going to the hospital, being up all night,” said Dr. Gordon Hughes, chairman of the board of trustees for the Indiana State Medical Association. “But the young people coming out of training now don’t want to do much call and don’t want the risk of buying into a practice, but they still want a good lifestyle and a big salary. You can’t have it both ways.” …

…There are political consequences, too. As doctors move from being employers to employees, their politics often take a leftward turn. This helps explain why the American Medical Association — long opposed to health care reforms — gave at least a tepid endorsement to Mr. Obama’s overhaul effort…

The complete article is at The New York Times

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