Study: Medical groups seeing fewer patients during recession

A new study concludes that family physicians are seeing fewer patients--often because patients have canceled appointments or put off preventative care--actions doctors see as results of the recession.

The study, released by the American Academy of Family Physicians, surveyed 505 AAFP members. Of those who responded, 89 percent said that more of their patients expressed worries about their ability to pay for care. Meanwhile, 54 percent said they were seeing fewer patients since January 2008, and 73 percent reported seeing more uninsured patients.

Also, in an ominous sign for a specialty that's already on a narrow margin, 71 percent reported providing more uncompensated care. Not surprisingly, 44 percent say that financial stresses are causing them to think about cutting staff--or to actually make the cuts.

Family physicians also saw signs that patients' health was being directly affected by cost issues. Seventy-three percent reported seeing evidence of patients cutting prescription doses, 60 percent said they saw patients develop health problems after passing on preventive care, and 35 percent saw children miss regularly scheduled well-child checkups.

To get more data from the study:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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