How does health care ruling affect you and your doctor?


The doctors who are expected to be hardest hit are internists and primary care physicians. According to the American Medical Association, patients may face shorter appointments. And if you're a new patient, those appointments could be tougher to get.

One doctor Eyewitness News spoke to says the ruling may help some, but it may not lower health care costs. And it will definitely affect how doctors practice medicine.

The Affordable Care Act won't affect your next visit to the doctor's office, but what it does impact is how primary care providers, like Dr. Manuel Momjian, see their future.

"If you have a system where you're not paying your primary care physicians well, guess what? You're probably not going to have very good service either," said Momjian.

In a survey taken shortly after the ruling, 64 percent of primary care doctors said they didn't believe the law will result in 100-percent health care coverage for Americans. Forty-six percent felt they would suffer an extremely negative impact. And 26 percent had a more dire prediction, foreseeing possibly closing their practices.

"If you can't pay your bills at the end of the day it doesn't make a lot of sense," said Momjian.

Dr. Momjian fears small primary care practices like his could soon disappear. Under the current law it's already difficult to get reimbursements from insurance companies. Under the new law, he says, it'll be impossible for small businesses to survive.

"You have to balance costs by taking some of the money away from the hospitals, by taking the money away from the pharmaceutical companies, the large insurance companies, not from the doctors. The doctors are already getting squeezed to death," said Momjian.

While major health organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Medical Association see the new law improving access for patients with pre-existing conditions, chronic diseases and those on Medicare, Dr. Momjian says it could limit his ability to refer patients to specialists.

Cancer survivor Linda Goldstein says there are doctors she prefers, but if they're not in her plan, she'll adapt.

"You're going to find another very good doctor in that network," said Goldstein.

Dr. Momjian says in the next four or five years expect to see more large hospital-based practices as smaller ones close.

Goldstein expects kinks in the new system, but remains hopeful.

"People are always afraid of the unknown, but usually it works out," said Goldstein.

Also in the physician survey conducted by MDLinx, a number of doctors expressed support for providing medical care to the poor, but feared there wouldn't be enough primary care providers to meet the increased demand.

As it stands now, the president's health care overhaul will be fully in effect in 2014.

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