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Young Doctors Don’t Have Much Hope for the Future of US Health Care

A new survey finds that almost half of physicians under 40 are not fans of the Affordable Care Act.

Young doctors aren’t optimistic about the future of their industry, and all signs point to the Affordable Care Act, the controversial health-care legislation that promises health insurance for all Americans and now lies in the hands of the Supreme Court.

A survey conducted by the Physicians Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit, found that while a majority of physicians said they were happy in their current practice, only 4 percent described themselves as highly optimistic about the future of the US health-care system. On the other hand, 57 percent said they were pessimistic, and another 30 percent said they were “highly pessimistic.”

Why the gloom? “Government control is a recipe for disaster. They cannot run a business and cannot control expenses. How could they do a good job on health care? It’s a joke!” one doctor responded.

“I think the government is destroying health care,” another said.

Other major reasons included fears that costs would increase and reimbursements would decline.

Five hundred doctors, mostly primary care physicians, under the age of 40 were surveyed. The typical physician was 37 years old and an employee of a small medical group. Most of the physicians were pretty satisfied with their current employment and had plans to remain in their position for at least eight years.

Doctors were generally opposed to the Affordable Care Act, with 49 percent agreeing that its impact will be negative. However, primary care physicians were a little more positive or neutral about the law, compared with medical or surgical office-based specialists and hospital-employed doctors.

Interestingly enough, while 65 percent of doctors said steady income was the main factor that influenced their current form of employment, they also cited money as the reason they were most pessimistic about the future of the health-care system. As one doctor noted, “The US health-care system isn’t concerned about the employees or patients. They’re just concerned about the money.”

The select few who said they were optimistic about the future gave reasons that were still somewhat negative, researchers noted. Most said, “It can’t get any worse,” while others said they were confident better patient care was on the way, despite having a “pessimism toward Congress and the public’s ability to enact decent change and regulation.”

The results may add fuel to the already heated debate on the health-care law. The Supreme Court will make a decision on the act’s constitutionality in June.

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