Report Claims Office-Based Physicians Pumped 1.4 trillion into Economy in 2009

Could this report actually be real? Is it true? Medpage Today (affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine) reported today that office-based physicians pumped $1.4 trillion into the economy for 2009 along with thousands of jobs. Are these folks talking about the US? Is this a joke? Shut the door, man! How come nobody told the GOP? By now, they would have found a way to blame President Obama for something bad, really bad about this in some convoluted way.

Office-based physicians pumped $1.4 trillion into the national economy in 2009 along with four million jobs, according to a new report from the American Medical Association. … On the state level, doctors almost always beat out the contributions of several other health-related industries, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home health, the report said. [….]

The report also says that, “office-based physicians almost always contribute more to state economies than other industries, including law and education.”

There was one comment about this report that expresses concern that if we go to a single-payer system, the good jobs folks have in physicians’ offices might disappear:

I wonder how many physician office-based jobs would go away if a single payer system were to be adopted. In thousands of small towns and communities, where employment is chronically in short supply, every physician’s office has someone to manage complicated billing to third parties. These positions almost always go to women and offer good working conditions and long-term job security. In these small town/rural economies, securing employment in a doctor’s office is highly valued and sought after and often status elevating.

I disagree with this person’s assessment. For sure the billing staff represent a small portion of the work force in a physician’s office. The bulk of that workforce is often nurses, nursing assistants and physicians. A single-payer system would still need someone with billing skills to manage same, as well as someone to input patient information into the office data base, do intake, update records and a host of other administrative duties.

In addition, as long as you have a staff in an office setting, you’re going to need someone to manage the day-to-day organization of that staff, their shifts, vacation time, lunch schedules, patient office visits and more.

Perhaps the writer of this comment is suggesting that a single-payer system would need less “paperwork” than the intricate third-party billing system. In a small office where there is generally only one billing person, someone would still be needed to do the job. In this instance, switching to a single-payer system would not cut that job. Besides, health care is a monolithic industry that is growing — even in the rural parts of our country — and the possibilities of job expansion are growing with it.

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