Docs report health reform questions add up to two hours to their workday

It's been predicted that health reform will make busy doctors busier when insurance coverage becomes nearly universal in 2014, but some physicians say their work days have already lengthened due to the sheer mass of patient questions surrounding the bill.

"We've had to add an hour or two to the day because patients want to talk about it," Roger W. Evans, MD, a cardiologist in Wichita, Kan., told the New York Times. "I see 30 to 50 patients in a day, and it is the subject of conversation more than half the time."

Physicians have been fielding questions about everything to rumored IRS management of health procedures to patients' desire to have surgery immediately rather than risk noncoverage in the future. Many inquiries have more to do with misinformation provided by the media than actual content of the legislation, the Times notes.

And although not all doctors report getting barraged with questions, most seem to agree that providing the best answers can be difficult. "Quite honestly, I don't know how to answer their concerns," Deborah A. Sutcliffe, a solo practitioner in Red Bluff, Calif., told the Times. "Sometimes they're more informed than I am, sometimes they're not. I haven't read the damn thing."

Nonetheless, some help is available. Medicare beneficiaries, for example, can turn to The Medicare Rights Center, which operates a call center for patients. And some insurers, such as UnitedHealthcare, have taken a proactive approach to increased healthcare confusion by enhancing its call center for physicians and patients as well as its online cost estimator.

To learn more:
- read this article in the Wall Street Journal

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