The Unknown Impact of Health Reform on My Private Practice

September 23, 2013

Patients are asking how Obamacare will affect my practice. Here's what's happened so far and what could happen in the near future for my staff and patients.

Patients have been asking me for the last few months, "So what do you think is going to happen to your practice with Obamacare?"  I told them what I assume most physicians are thinking, "I really don’t know. I’m apprehensive. But I guess I’ll find out."

There’s been talk about physicians being inundated with new patients because there will be an increase in demand for physicians without increasing the supply. In our case, we already have such a backlog, I don’t know what we’ll do if more patients call to make new patient appointments. I am concerned that we are going to have to close to new patients for a while if the wait for a new patient appointment gets any longer. As it is, patients are very dissatisfied with the wait. I can’t begin to imagine how primary-care physicians will handle this.

There is also the concern about increasing patient financial responsibility. That will put a greater strain on the patients, as well as on our staff who will have to collect more from patients. As many patients don’t understand when they have deductibles or how much their copays are, if their portion of the bill increases, it may become increasing difficult to get paid for services.

As a business owner and employer, there is also the question of providing health insurance to employees. We are a small enough practice that, as I understand it, I am not legally obligated to provide insurance coverage for the employees, but I have always done that anyway. I think it helps keep employees happy and instills some loyalty to the practice. Having said that, I was still obligated to print out and complete a form that I had to distribute to each employee, stating who is eligible for insurance, that we offer it, and that it is deemed affordable. They actually found it somewhat amusing that I had to inform them of something they already knew. Sigh. To think trees had to die for this paperwork.

So, what do I think will happen? Will Obamacare have a significant impact on the way our practice is run now? I honestly don’t know. But I guess I’ll find out.