SONOMA COUNTY: Doctors Frustrated, Angry Over Managed Care
Many Sonoma County doctors are "fuming over managed care because they feel it has increased their workload, reduced their income and taken time away from their families," according to a new poll by the Sonoma County Medical Association. Mailed to 1,064 local doctors and answered by 385, the 21-question survey was developed out of concern about doctor morale and the financial stability of medical groups. About 91% of survey respondents said managed care "has had a negative effect on them," citing feelings of frustration and anger. Seventy-two percent reported suffering in their personal lives due to HMOs, with half pointing to less family time and one-third planning to retire early as a result. Three-quarters of respondents said managed care had caused a 20% workload increase; and 28% are now working 60 to 80 hours per week. In addition, nearly two-thirds of doctors said their practices had lost income because of managed care, with one-third reporting losses of up to 20% in the past two years and another 30% putting financial losses at more than 20%. Health Plan of the Redwoods CEO John Baxter was not surprised by the survey results. "We see the concerns playing out every day. We are trying to make it work better," he said. Baxter added that HPR wants to raise premiums paid by employers in order to lessen the burden assumed by doctors. "As we raise premiums we are passing it along to physicians, hospitals and their partners, but this takes time to work through the system. Managed care is about trying to find the best possible care at the rate that the employers and the community can afford. Sometimes, those outcomes mean that compromises are required," he noted (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 3/21).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.