A survey of California doctors found that a majority of the 525 who responded believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, also called Obamacare) will steer the country's health care in the right direction, but California has only 28 percent Republicans so that isn't a huge surprise. Doctors were on the side of their political affiliations but were also distinctly divided by medical specialties.
Private practices are on the decline and independent business owners are strongly Republicans. In California, more doctors work for institutions but even with that partisan divide 39 percent thought their practice would be hurt by the legislation and only 36 percent thought it would have no effect. 25 percent believe it will help.
"The United States is in an unprecedented era of health care reform that is pushing medical professionals and medical educators to evaluate the future of their patients, their careers and the field of medicine," said Dr. Gerardo Moreno, assistant professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study's senior author. "This survey provides us a snapshot of what physicians think about health care reform. Physicians are a trusted source of information for health policy issues and learning, so investigating what drives their opinions on the ACA is important."
Among the other findings:
- 67 percent of primary care doctors strongly or somewhat agree that the ACA steers United States health care in the right direction, compared with 56 percent of specialists.
- 38 percent of generalists think the health reform act will help their practice, compared with 20 percent of specialists.
- 29 percent of primary care physicians believe the law will hurt their practice, versus 43 percent of specialists.
- 33 percent of generalists feel the ACA will not help their practice, compared with 37 percent of specialists.
- Those who do not endorse the ACA are likelier to be compensated by billing only and not by salary, politically conservative and dissatisfied with the practice of medicine.
- Physicians who favor the law are more likely to be compensated by salary, hold liberal political opinions and find satisfaction in their jobs.
- Those who think the ACA will help their practice are likelier to be primary care doctors, compensated by salary, politically liberal and satisfied practicing medicine.
The researchers note that the survey results could have been influenced by the desire to give socially acceptable answers.
The study's co-authors are Sheila Ganjian, Patrick Dowling and Jason Hove, all of UCLA. Ganjian is also associated with the Charles Drew University Medical Education Program. The study was funded by the UCLA department of family medicine.