Remember when we were told that there was no way that Obamacare would result in driving up costs of healthcare, and in fact would lower it? Well, that ship has already sailed. But there was another popular “myth” which many of us were accused of falling for. It was the prediction that government meddling in cost setting would drive health care professionals out of business resulting in less available services and a subsequent decline in quality of care. That was just a myth, right? Ah, good times… good times….
Unfortunately, the early projections show that precisely such a result is already kicking into gear.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has recently triggered a debate within the medical community about both its potential impact on medical trainees and on practicing physicians. While the president of the American Medical Student Association has publicly supported the changes in a recent official memo, a recent survey indicates that 40 percent of medical students may not even be aware of the provisions of the act.
Institutional changes can often be double-edged swords, and this series of proposed changes is no different. There are both potential benefits and downsides to what is now widely seen as almost inevitable healthcare reform.
How is this playing out in the real world? One area of medical practice which seems particularly vulnerable is eye care. A shortage of certified, fully trained ophthalmologists is tempting some states, like Kentucky, to expand the practice of optometrists to fill the gap. But there are problems with that.
Kentucky joined the company of Oklahoma last week as the second state to conflate optometrists and ophthalmologists. Only ophthalmologists are the sort of doctors who graduated from medical school, did an internship, completed a three-year residency in eye surgery, possibly a fellowship after that, and have achieved and maintained national board certification through a program of lifelong learning in their specialty.
Optometry schools (four-year programs focused on optics to prescribe glasses and contacts and the diagnosis and management of certain eye-related diseases) have a tough application process too, and many of the same students going into optometry could have chosen medicine. But nobody ever really faces a clear-cut choice of going into optometry or ophthalmology.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment