By Clive Riddle, October 17, 2014
The Medicus Firm, a national healthcare recruiting firm has just released results regarding health reform, from their 11th annual Physician Practice Preference Survey. This year’s survey shows an uptick grades doctors give the Affordable Care Act, but a still overall negative review. 2,272 physicians and advanced practice providers from 19 specialties and all 50 states participated in this year’s survey.
When asked to give the ACA an overall grade, 8.6% awarded an “A”, up from 6.3% last year. Meanwhile, 22.35% graded the ACA an “F” this year, down from 30.2% a year ago.
The survey went on to ask doctors to rate the ACA on specific objectives, such as improving efficiency of healthcare, improving access to healthcare, improving quality of healthcare, and decreasing healthcare costs. Medicus reports that “the best and most improved grades were awarded for ‘improving access to healthcare’, with a resounding 23.4 percent giving the ACA an ‘A’ in this objective, up from 11.8 percent last year. Additionally, 27.11 percent of physicians gave the ACA a ‘B’ for improving healthcare access. Only 13.68 percent of respondents failed the ACA in this category, down from 23.6 percent who gave it an ‘F’ last year for this objective. The objective receiving the lowest grades was ‘improving efficiency of healthcare.’ However, even this category showed some improvement over last year. Only about 7 percent of physicians gave the ACA an ‘A’ for improving efficiency, which is up slightly from 5.6 percent last year. Furthermore, 29.73 percent of physicians gave the ACA an ‘F’ for improving efficiency, which is down from 35.4 percent who gave it a failing grade in this category last year.”
It should come as no surprise that from the onset, physicians would view the ACA negatively. Perhaps it should also not be surprising that some of them would view things more positively once the core of the Act was finally implemented. Jim Stone, President of The Medicus Firm, tells us "Physicians seem to have become slightly more positive about the ACA compared to last year's survey. As of last year's survey, the ACA had not yet been fully implemented, although many aspects of the legislation were already in motion. This year's survey was conducted after the ACA was in full effect for several months, and four years after its passage into law. Unfortunately, the grades on the whole are not very positive, so it's good that there is some improvement in physicians' perceptions of the effectiveness of the ACA."
The Medicus Firm isn’t the only organization surveying physicians on their views of the Affordable Care Act. Physicians Practice Magazine conducts the annual Great American Physician Survey, which this year had 1,311 respondents. Their results, announced in August, included this reform question:
“Which statement best describes your personal feelings about the Affordable Care Act, in terms of its effect on patient access to care: [A] I think it’s been great for Americans (18.9%); [B] I think it’s mostly good, but not all good; and [C] I think it has done a disservice to Americans (39.2%).”
Finally, The Physicians Foundation commissioned Merritt Hawkins, a physician search and consulting firm, to conduct a survey of 20,000 physicians, with the resulting report 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives released last month. The survey included a question similar to The Medicus Fund’s grading of the ACA, with Merritt Hawkins finding that “when asked about what grade physicians would give the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 46 percent give a D or F grade. Younger (ages 45 or lower), employed physicians were more inclined to give the ACA favorable marks than older (46 or higher), private practice owners. In fact, 63 percent of younger physicians (ages 45 or lower), would give the ACA a grade of C or above.”