Docs need checkup on PPACA

By Kathryn Mayer

It appears that doctors need a checkup on regulations.

Because you know what docs are saying about health reform to their patients? A whole lot of nothing.

A new consumer survey from HealthPocket finds that half of all respondents who have a regular physician haven’t had their doctor comment on the effect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on health care.

Of those whose doctors have commented on health reform, responses have been fairly evenly divided: 38 percent heard mostly negative comments, 33 percent heard mostly positive comments, and 29 percent heard neutral comments. Twenty-five percent of respondents reported not having a regular physician.

This worries me.

I’m a big believer in consumer-driven health care in the simplest sense: I believe consumers should be proactive, make decisions and have a relationship with their doctor.

But that’s also a two-way street. Doctors need to have a relationship back. And despite the commentaries, the opinions — and of course, the delays — PPACA is a big conversation to have about health care.

With the Oct. 1 exchange deadline just months away, consumers need to start weighing their options. And experts say those decisions will be influenced, in part, by whether their physicians will be participating in specific plans.

“Medical appointments can be critical opportunities to discuss the personal implications of health reform,” says Bruce Telkamp, HealthPocket CEO. “Many consumers are confused or have unanswered questions about the Affordable Care Act. Doctors, as trusted health care experts in the eyes of consumers, can help their patients understand how patient care will be affected.”

Part of the problem, I’m sure, is that doctors as a whole aren’t entirely big fans of PPACA. The health industry has time and time again warned that they aren’t ready for it. But they need to get ready. And they need to help consumers do so, too.

The new survey is the latest dose of bad medicine for PPACA. It seems fewer and fewer people are on board with the law. But when it comes to promoting and explaining the law to consumers, doctors need be involved regardless of their opinions on it.

Oh, and I’m fairly certain if I had to choose between hearing about PPACA from professional athletes or Hollywood stars — as the administration is working to do — or my doctor, I’d choose my doctor. I have just a tiny bit more trust in her.

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