For doctors, 2014 will look like a last stand for the profession

The Best $600 you’ll ever spend.  Guest message from Matt McCord, M.D.

I agree with the healthcare economist Paul Keckley that 2014 is a watershed year for American Healthcare.   “For doctors, 2014 will look like a last stand for the profession.”

http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2014/01/02/headlines-youll-see-in-2014/

2014 will finally provide us an opportunity to demonstrate our real value to the American public.

Barbarians, disruptors, it is time to unite!

The next two crises in American healthcare are cost and access.

Whoever provides the answers to solve those problems will have the loudest voice and most influence.

It is that rare instance where solutions may trump contributions inside Washington.

Despite what you have been lead to believe by many, us doctors are the most well equipped and able-bodied to provide those solutions to truly innovate our healthcare if given that chance.

That chance has been brought about by two landmark events; the Affordable Care Act and our ‘retirement crises’.

Since the passage of the ACA in 2010, the employer-based/private sector market (approximately 54% of the market) has undergone a dramatic transformation to Health Savings Accounts/High-Deductible Health Plans:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/06/16/its-the-cost-sharing-stupid-health-care-spending-is-slowing-because-americans-control-their-own-health-dollars/

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/features/insuring-your-health/2013/032613-michelle-andrews-on-high-deductible-plans-and-large-employers.aspx

http://www.dallasnews.com/business/personal-finance/headlines/20131018-employers-push-health-care-savings-accounts-consumer-groups-wary.ece

In addition to that, the most popular lower tier ‘Medal Plans’ of the ACA have super-sized deductibles:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-13/business/ct-biz-1013-obamacare-deductibles-20131013_1_health-care-overhaul-health-insurance-health-coverage

http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/360901/obamacares-next-big-problem-high-deductibles-high-co-pays-jim-geraghty

We already know from insurance actuarial studies that;

1. 80% of Americans claim less than $1000 in health care claims per year.

2. 94% of Americans claim less than $5000 in health care claims per year.

Therefore, if the bulk of the market has deductibles in excess of $5000, our healthcare is now retail.

This ‘retail disruption’ will drive demands for price transparency, greater choice and more competition.

http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/pwc-survey-reveals-top-health-industry-trends-2014/2013-12-12?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2013/12/15/healthcares-story-of-the-year-for-2013-pricing-transparency/

http://www.npr.org/2013/07/28/206370593/high-deductible-health-plans-gamble-for-some-on-the-rise?ft=1&f=1027

The ultimate consequence of this will be the breaking up of narrow networks, favored nation clauses and other access-limiting restraints and regulations that currently exist in our marketplace. While these may exist for a time during the transition, under this greater cost-sharing model patients and employers will not tolerate someone else deciding whom they can see and at what cost when they are footing 100% of the bill. Everyone will be clamoring for a freer market and less regulation.

Ironically, the greater cost-sharing and high deductibles called for by the insurance industry will be there undoing. They will have less influence on a market that they have dominated for decades.

By breaking up the stranglehold that insurers have enjoyed in our industry these high deductibles are a great thing for both doctors and patients.

Now that patients can buy on price they can buy on quality and doctors can compete with the best in the business when given the chance:

http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/04/health-reformers-learn-doctorowned-hospitals.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/doctor-owned-hospitals-prosper-under-health-care-law/2013/04/13/d25888f0-a45a-11e2-82bc-511538ae90a4_story.html

All of this is occurring during a time when the baby boomer generation is entering the retirement age. Since 2011 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day and thiswill continue for another 17.5 years! This ‘retirement crisis’ will place new strains on our industry. Access will be the other crisis:

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/11/04/affordable-care-act-could-be-further-hamstrung-by-shortage-of-doctors/

In this setting everyone will be seeking solutions that improve efficiency and access to care. This is why you are seeing retailers like Walgreens getting into the healthcare delivery business.

This is a great opportunity for forward thinking doctors to save the day and retake our industry.

The real disruptor organizations that are truly fighting for both doctors and patients are:

Docs4PatientCare: http://docs4patientcare.org/

AAPS: http://www.aapsonline.org/

These are truly grassroots organizations made up of front-line practicing physicians that are proposing viable and sustainable solutions to our healthcare problems. For example, read the Docs4PatientCare Physician’s prescription: http://docs4patientcare.org/prescription

Check out their websites. The AAPS produces great meetings on how to maintain a thriving independent practice, they have an outstanding newsletter and they truly are fighting for you and against more regulation; they have filed lawsuits challenging both the ACA and the ABMS/MOCA industry. 

Join the two doctor organizations that are truly thinking differently about healthcare. The problem solvers. The real innovators. Why? Not because I think that we can outbid publicly traded insurance industry giants inside Washington. Nor can we outbid the American Hospital Association. 

What your membership does for both organizations is it shows our solidarity and it gets our voices heard by the public. 

$600 is all it takes—a very low barrier to entry. 

Join. Get social—tweet, link,follow…get the message out to our patients and help win back our industry. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjgtLSHhTPg

Matt McCord, MD

Vice Chairman, Dept. of Anesthesiology
St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Secretary, Michigan Chapter, Docs4PatientCare.org
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