ORANGE COUNTY: Docs ‘More Pessimistic’ Due to HMO Predominance
One third of Orange County physicians "believe they cannot provide high-quality care to all their patients," according to a survey released Friday at a UC-Irvine Graduate School of Management conference. Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, said that response "was the most negative of sentiments expressed by doctors in the 12 metropolitan areas studied by the center." The Los Angeles Times reports that Ginsburg said the doctors' pessimistic attitudes were likely "attributable to the prevalence of managed care" in the county. In addition, 25% of Orange County doctors said they "cannot always or almost always obtain referrals to high-quality specialists when medically necessary" -- a response "sharply more negative than the average response to the survey." The Times reports the survey also revealed "a correlation between physician concerns and consumer discontent" as one in five Orange County residents "believe their physician might not refer them to a specialist when needed." Dr. Terence O'Heany, former president of the Orange County Medical Association, said, "The joy is being taken out because a lot of people who are not doctors are making decisions for your patients." On the upside, however, the survey showed that health insurance costs in Orange County are among the lowest in the nation, with an average monthly premium of $163, compared to a national mean of $176. Annual premium increases are also lower, at 0.2% compared to the 2% national average. The survey was conducted two years ago, but the center is currently conducting another survey in Orange County and plans to release the update in April (Warren, 2/6). Click Orange County for past coverage of managed care in the area.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.