I am a family practice physician. I own a practice with my partners who are also family physicians. Like any business, we have overhead expenses close to $1.5 million. I'm still paying my medical school debt and will for another 20 years. Our business personnel expense alone is more than $80,000 every two weeks.
Any patient sitting on my exam table literally costs me around $50. Medicare on average pays about the break even point. So, for those complicated and tenuous patients with a bunch of medications and a slew of potentially life-threatening medical problems, I basically work for free.
That leaves private pay insurance. Private insurance pays a little better than Medicare. [But] the rate of reimbursement depends on the company and my ability to negotiate with an insurer. As a small business, my negotiating power is minimal.
Tort reform is nowhere on the horizon, and malpractice insurance premiums are astronomical in most states. Unfortunately it only takes one multi-million dollar lawsuit to eliminate my ability to provide for my family.
As a business owner, I am also affected by the health insurance laws. As I now have just over 50 employees, I will not receive any help with employee insurance costs. It sounds like it may cost me more to provide coverage, especially now that dependents can stay on longer on coverage.
My incentive is to eliminate health care jobs and limit my practice growth to stay under this 50 employee limit.
What will the new health care law mean for me as a primary care physician? Hopefully it will mean that we will get paid a little more for what we do, which would allow us to actually spend time with our patients and stay in business.
NEXT: "Hopefully it's a step in the right direction"