Doctors Today: Overworked, Unhappy With Job and More Prone to Suicide

Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 08:34 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Nine out of 10 doctors would discourage others from choosing their profession, while data suggest that 300 physicians will commit suicide this year.

The Daily Beast
notes the facts are startling: Being a doctor is the second-most common profession in which people take their own lives.

According to Business Insider, "[p]hysicians are 1.87 times more likely to commit suicide" than white males working in other professions.

Layers of government regulations have shrunk the average time a doctor spends with a patient during an appointment to around 12 minutes. That is partially due, writes the Daily Beast, to an increased caseload of up to 2,500 patients to offset the high insurance costs doctors face for every patient they see.

"Doctors who are in a rush don't have the time to listen," said Dr. Stephen Schimpff, an internist and former CEO of University of Maryland Medical Center. "Often, patients get referred to specialists when the problem can be solved in the office visit."

Schimpff is working on a book that discusses the sad state of affairs in the world of primary care physicians. Increased stress and demands on the job are leading to the high suicide rate.

Nerdwallet.com reports that many medical students are concentrating on specialty forms of medicine like orthopedic and cardiology instead of family physician programs. Those medical fields are more lucrative and have less insurance burdens than general practitioners.

The NerdWallet story says there is a shortage of 20,000 doctors in the U.S., and that number is expected to get worse down the road.

The Daily Beast points to an increased number of federal regulations as a major reason for the problems facing physicians. Things such as improving patient satisfaction scores, fielding calls from insurance companies throughout the day, and more frequent testing and re-certifications are contributing to the issue.

The American Medical Association, meanwhile, put out a press release last month that said a little-known rule in the Affordable Care Act could cost doctors more money. If a patient decides not to pay his or her insurance premium, the doctor could get stuck with the bill.

"The rule published by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides individuals that purchase subsidized coverage through the state insurance exchanges a 90-day grace period before their coverage is cancelled for non-payment," the statement reads.

"Under the CMS rule, insurers in health exchanges are required to pay any claims incurred during the first 30-days of the grace period, but insurers are not required to pay claims incurred during the last 60-days for any patient whose coverage is terminated. Patients are considered to be covered for care during the entire grace period, but insurers are allowed to place all the claims during the last two-thirds of the period in a pending status and retroactively deny them when coverage is terminated at the end of the grace period."

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