Frustrated with Managed Care, Low Earnings, Many California Doctors Leave State, Retire
Many California doctors have returned to graduate school for degrees in other fields, left the state or retired early from the medical profession, which they have said "is no longer as professionally or financially rewarding as it once was," the Los Angeles Daily News reports. According to a survey of 2,000 doctors earlier this year, about half plan to quit, retire or leave the state within the next three years. Tarzana-Agoura Hills pediatrician and allergist Brian Greenberg said, "That's going to lead to a shortage and that's going to provide problems for us." A Medical Group Management Association study found that most California doctors earn 14% less than physicians in other states, while some specialists earn up to 30% less. Dr. Fredrick Russo, president of Facey Medical Group and president of the West Valley area district of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, said, "In the old days, I believe that physicians had more margin in the business and therefore tended to be able to take their practice more leisurely." Other physicians have become frustrated with managed care, which forces them to treat more patients, deal with more paperwork and earn less for some procedures than they did in the past. Doctors in private practice also face the "constantly rising costs of running a small business," which leaves "fewer dollars left over for salaries in an already-expensive area." Some have expressed concern that the exodus of doctors may limit access to care, the Daily News reports. Greenberg said, "I think it's a terrible trend, I really do. They're spending less time taking care of sick patients" (Mascaro, Los Angeles Daily News, 10/1).