The doctor is . . . skeptical about the Affordable Care Act. And clueless, too.
A new survey shows that an overwhelming percentage of physicians don't believe that their states' new health insurance exchanges will meet the Oct. 1 deadline for those key Obamacare marketplaces to begin enrolling the uninsured.
Just 11 percent of doctors believe those exchanges will be open for business that day.
But those doctors, by a wide margin, also said they are "not at all familiar" with how a number of important aspects of those exchanges and plans offered on them will work—aspects that will directly affect their bottom lines. More than 65 percent of them gave that answer to all but one of the questions asking their familiarity with plan benefits levels, contracted rates with insurers, patient coverage terms and the claims process.
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Shane Jackson, president and COO of LocumTenens.com, which conducted the survey, said the results are potential red flags for not only the finances of those physicians' offices, but also for their patients, who "rely on their doctor for a lot of information."
"They expect to a large degree that their doctors understand how this is all going to work," said Jackson, whose company is a full-service physician staffing agency and online industry job board.
Noting that an important goal of the Affordable Care Act is enrolling the uninsured in insurance plans—which will theoretically put more money in doctors' pockets—Jackson said, "As major stakeholders and advocates in this effort, physicians should be educated about how these changes will impact them, their patients and their prospective patients."
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"Our survey shows that for the most part, they are in the dark," Jackson said. "Doctors, they're seeing patients and they don't have time or motivation to get up to speed on this, but they're going to have to because it's going to impact them."
Jackson said that the "the major lack of awareness" among both doctors and patients "is troubling."
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