Thursday, February 28, 2008

Most Minnesota doctors like single-payer health care, academic study finds | Twin Cities Daily Planet | Minneapolis - St. Paul

Most Minnesota doctors like single-payer health care, academic study finds Twin Cities Daily Planet Minneapolis - St. Paul:

"In his years as a physician, he has seen a sharp change in how physicians look at health care. “Having lunch with other doctors used to mean listening to conservatives griping about the government. Now lunchroom talk is that single-payer would be a good idea,” said Adair.

A recent survey through the University of Minnesota and St. Olaf College found that 64 percent of Minnesota’s physicians support a single-payer system much like the Minnesota Health Plan. Another 25 percent said that health savings accounts were the way to go, and only 12 percent thought that the current system of managed care was adequate.

“I personally feel very angry and frustrated when I know my patients are not getting the care that they deserve,” said Dr. Elizabeth Frost, a supporter of the Minnesota Health Plan. “I hate saying to people, ‘you need this test or this study,’ all the while knowing they don’t have insurance and likely don’t have a lot of savings either.”

Of the reasons that a single-payer system is so attractive to the majority of physicians in Minnesota is that the current multi-payer, managed-care system often gets in the way of physicians’ ability to provide the care that they swore an oath to provide."

The following point is also made:

"Because of [these] barriers people often under-use the system, “as opposed to the overuse that people erroneously cite as a significant problem in the current system,” said Settgast. “This under-use leads to unnecessary human suffering and also financial waste because the cost of caring for a patient with a stroke far exceeds the cost of effectively managing someone’s high blood pressure.”

Please click on "Moral Hazard" (along the right of this blog) to see more about that last point. But the bigger point is true in my expereince too: physicians are tired of this "system" we now have and are ready to take a chance on change. It would make an interesting poll for the AMA to undertake...

UPDATE: The findings section of the paper, from Minnesota Medicine.
Findings A majority of respondents (72%) were male with a median medical school graduation year of 1979. Nearly half (46%) practiced primary medicine, followed by medical specialty (35%), surgical specialty (12%), and general surgery (6%). More than three-quarters (79%) worked in a metropolitan setting, and nearly two-thirds (65%) practiced in a clinic.
Of the 390 respondents who answered the question about which financing system would offer the best health care to the greatest number of people for a fixed amount of money, 64% said they favor a single-payer financing system, 25% preferred HSAs, and only 12% preferred managed care (Figure 1). Figures 2, 3 and 4 offer a closer look at who prefers those financing structures by sex, geographic location, specialty, and type of practice.
A single-payer system was favored by women physicians over men (female, 76%; male, 59%; p=.003); more male physicians than female preferred HSAs (male, 30%; female, 16%; p=.004). The percentage of male respondents who favored the current managed care system slightly exceeded that of female physicians (12% versus 9%; p=.553).
Geographic setting was also significantly associated across the 3 choices. Urban physicians favored a single-payer system over their rural and suburban colleagues (71%, 60%, and 54%, respectively; p=.009). Rural physicians preferred HSAs over suburban and urban physicians (34%, 32%, 17%; p=.002). Managed care garnered less than 15% support overall, with 14% of suburban physicians, 12% of urban doctors, and 6% of rural respondents favoring it; p=.217). Thus, urban physicians had the most support for a single-payer system and the least for managed care. Rural physicians were relatively enthusiastic for HSAs but least supportive of managed care.
When looking at physicians’ responses across medical specialty, those practicing primary medicine most favored a single-payer system (74%); general surgeons least favored such a system (36%). Conversely, general surgeons most favored HSAs (55%), and primary medicine physicians least favored them (20%). Managed care found greatest support among physicians who practiced a medical or surgical specialty (17% each) and the least among those who practiced primary medicine (6%). Of those who favored managed care, the significant split was specialists over generalists (17% and 7%; p=.001).
Physicians also were asked who should be responsible for providing access to health care. Nearly all (86%) believed it is the responsibility of society through government to ensure access to good medical care for all, regardless of ability to pay. Only 41% held that the private insurance industry should continue to play a major role in medical care financing and delivery.
Using a regression model, we found that physicians who agreed that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure access to medical care were significantly more likely to favor a single-payer financing system (OR 13.51; CI 2.85, 64.15; p=.001). Those who believed the private insurance industry should continue to play a major role in financing medical care were significantly less likely to favor a government-run system (OR 3.45; CI 1.35, 8.33; p=.009

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