What Do Doctors Want From Health Care Policy After COVID-19?

What Do Doctors Want From Health Care Policy After COVID-19?

One sneaky aspect of this election was the health care debate. Which plans for insurance will the U.S. take, exactly? A recent survey of American doctors gives us a snapshot of how our providers hope our health care policy will turn out.

Remember: Health Care Policy Has Remained Contested

doctors healthcare policy logo
Image courtesy of the Physicians Foundation.

Health care debates haven’t gone unnoticed here at NCND. We’ve covered a few burning questions already: Will the new SCOTUS change impact policy? What about reproductive care through Roe v. Wade?

In that vein, we have new insights from the newest doctor-facing survey out of the Physician Foundation. As the third part in 2020’s COVID-19 edition, the report (“COVID-19 and the Future of the Health Care System”) rounds out our understanding of the pandemic’s impact.

We covered the first part of this survey series, which reported revenue losses nationwide. But what about the future of medical care?

What Doctors Think Should Change in Health Care Policy

Based on a survey which reached 1,270 physicians between Sept. 14 and Sept. 28, the Physicians Foundation reported these key insights:

1. 67% of doctors surveyed support a two-tier healthcare system which features both a single-payer option and private pay insurance.

2. 89% of doctors surveyed view streamlining prior authorizations as the most important immediate step for healthcare policy.

3. 89% of doctors surveyed support more affordable health insurance as the most important future step for healthcare policy.

4. 70% of doctors surveyed believe that insurance companies should account for patients’ difficulty in accessing healthy food and safe housing.

Of course, the full report includes several other relevant findings. But these highlights will most likely come into play when new health care policy reaches state and federal debates next year.

How Doctors’ Preferences Could Match Coming Policy Changes

Image courtesy of Oles kanebckuu from Pexels.

For one, President-elect Joe Biden proposes strengthening Obamacare (which serves as a two-tier system). If he holds that position in the new year, then that 67% of doctors will keep the health care policy that they support.

The other three preferences collected in the report also relate to health insurance policies. That second finding (prior authorizations) points out that a strong majority of surveyed doctors want streamlined care through insurance. Meanwhile, the third and fourth findings (affordable insurance and patients’ access) suggest that doctors also want that insurance to better serve patients in practice.

Affordable insurance, ever a sticking point in health care, remains unknown for now. NC Health News had reported in July that, because of COVID-19 care, insurance costs could rise. But they also added that costs saved earlier in the pandemic could delay increased costs.

However, the doctors’ view that insurance plans should serve patients beyond just medical care strikes a newer tone. Often, health care begins long before you reach the hospital or clinic. It can involve secure transportation to your appointment. Or it can mean regular access to healthy foods (not to mention overall food security). And we can’t forget that COVID-19 has exposed the inequities in who holds access to medical care — often, communities of color don’t have that assurance.

In short, doctors’ preferences map onto some of the likely changes to health care policy. But those changes remain up in the air for now.

Don’t forget to drop into the rest of our health care coverage! Or if you want more insight into North Carolina doctors, revisit what we found in the first part of the report.