Dr. Scott Gottlieb: Forget Keeping Your Physician Under Obamacare

Thursday, 05 Dec 2013 06:39 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Americans shouldn't worry about doctor shortages under the Affordable Care Act, but they'll likely have to give up some of their physicians, says Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

"A lot of the predictions of a doctor shortage make assumptions based on today's use of physician services," Gottlieb told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

Story continues below video.

"They don't take into those assumptions any view on how productivity is going to change among physicians and also how technology's going to change patterns of aging and patterns of illness."

Gottlieb says that over time, technology has enabled fewer physicians to treat more patients because the physicians themselves become more productive and old age becomes less acute.

"Patients spend fewer days in the hospital as they are treated for illnesses as outpatients, sometimes with nurses instead of physicians because they're less acute and they're less ill," he said.

"So it's wrong to make straight-lined assumptions from today's situation and not try to accommodate how things are going to evolve."

But keeping your own doctors isn't necessarily an option as President Barack Obama has stated, Gottlieb says.

"You're not going to be able to keep your doctor under Obamacare. I mean there might be plenty physicians but the plans themselves aren't going to let you see them because what we're looking at under that scheme are insurance plans that are extremely restrictive," Gottlieb said.

"They have very narrow networks of providers, and so most people are going to look at those networks and a lot of their doctors aren't going to be in them and they won't be able to see the doctors that they've customarily seen in the past."

He said, for example, that one plan he discovered in Florida, only offers access to seven pediatricians for a county with 260,000 youngsters.

The nearest urologist on one California plan, he added, is some 80 miles away.

"So it's going to be hard to access physicians in a lot of these plans because of the way they were designed. This is really a throwback to the old HMO model," he said.

"People rejected this in the 1990s in favor of flexible provider organizations and now they're being forced back onto those schemes."

See "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

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