Friday, August 01, 2008

Could Medicare Cause a Primary Doctor Shortage?

A new study performed by Harvard Medical School researchers at the Cambridge Health Alliance established that Medicare pays specialists way more than primary care doctors. While that news is not shocking per say, many are blaming this overpayment on the shortage of primary care doctors.

Although the study was said to prove that payments for specialty care such as rheumatology, nephrology, hematology-oncology and geriatrics were much higher than those of primary doctors, one can’t help but wonder if that is because the bills are higher or because there is something afoot about specialty doctors making half or more than half of their profits from government aid, mainly Medicare.

Questions are still unanswered about whether this actually has an effect on the primary care shortage. It could be just as likely that doctors go into specialty care because they know specialty care doctors charge more for their services, regardless of who is paying.

If you are interested in knowing more about this study look for the September 2008 edition of The Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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