Young Physicians Satisfied Working in Managed Care Settings

Article excerpt

Young physicians working in managed care settings are more satisfied with key aspects of their practices than those working in traditional fee-for-service settings, according to a new survey of more than 4,000 practicing physicians under 45 years of age.

The survey shows that managed care, a key part of popular health care reform proposals, has not had the deleterious impact on the practice of medicine that had been forecast by many.

The results of the survey appear in a supplemental spring issue of Health Affairs, a health policy quarterly. The survey was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research.

Physicians employed by health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and other groups under managed care contracts are more likely than other doctors to feel free to hospitalize patients, keep patients in the hospital, and order the tests and procedures they deem necessary. Overall, managed care physicians are as satisfied with their career choices as other doctors.

However, HMO employees earn about 10 percent less than they think they should, in contrast to self-employed physicians, who feel that their level of earnings is about right. Physicians affiliated with managed care are also less likely to be happy with the control they have over their work schedules and report being less free to treat patients who are unable to pay for their care. …