CNN recently published an interesting article on the ever-increasing number of private medical practices facing bankruptcy. Having first hand experience with the medical profession, all I can say is that it’s in serious jeopardy. My father, who was a doctor for fifty years is happy he’s retired because it became more and more difficult to make a living. I ran his practice for a number of years and despite the fact he was seeing more patients, he was making less money. Most people think doctors rake in the cash, but that is a terrible misnomer. The reality is, between the paperwork, increasing costs and shrinking insurance payouts, it’s becoming a horrible field. Men and Women become doctors not because of the potential payout but because of a passion and the desire to help people. Medical School is brutal. It’s beyond anything a CPA, MBA or JD could possibly imagine. In fact, those three degrees are tic-tac-toe compared to studying medicine. So you really, really have to love it, especially given these uncertain times. Within ten years, there will be few, if any private practices. It’s a sad commentary because, while more people will be insured, they will have fewer choices. Individual attention will be nonexistent because medicine will become the modern-day assembly line. Of course there will always be the doctors that cater to the wealthy; women who can afford to put down five-hundred dollars for a gynecological examination in New York City. But that won’t be the case for most of the country. Most doctors will have to move volume in order to make a living. More volume means more money, and less time. President Obama would have healthcare professionals believe that the streamlining of paperwork will lead to productivity, that’s not exactly the case. Yes, insurance companies make it difficult to submit claims, but once a patient is set up in the system, it’s simply a matter of entering the correct codes. The doctor needs to purchase the latest code books and someone has to be proficient at entering the codes. The real issue is the ridiculous amount of money the insurance companies pay to the doctors. If a claim is submitted for $100, the insurance company may only pay $40. Insurance companies have single-handedly ruined the healthcare profession. Years ago, many doctors didn’t take insurance. They didn’t need to. People simply paid the doctor for a visit. That’s still preferable as it costs the least to the industry when all is said and done. But the insurance companies blindsided everyone making it appear they are needed. The ONLY reason a medical insurance company is necessary, is for catastrophic care. It’s the same reason people have home owners insurance, life insurance or car insurance. Insurance companies for routine visits are completely unnecessary and should be eliminated from the equation. The $20 and $30 co-pays that the average insured person pays is a joke. The doctor needs that like he needs herpes. It’s even funnier when people don’t want to pay it. Middle class people will soon see the results of what they have asked for. It’s not scare tactics, it’s simply the truth. My father was fortunate to practice through the best years and then get out. For doctors, the worst years are upon them. The average person because of sour grapes may say good, doctors make too much money or drive fancy cars, but when that person’s life is on the line and based on the competency of the doctor in charge, he or she may sing a different tune. Bill Maher has spoken about the fact that medicine shouldn’t be a for-profit business but silly talk show hosts who do absolutely nothing except read lines written for them in “New Rules” should be earning millions of dollars? Of course, as so many do, he speaks from ignorance. One final word, medical students who don’t come from wealthy families can be facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. How does one pay that back earning $150,000 per year? That may seem like a lot to some people, but not when you’re in a deep financial hole, need a place to live, a car to get to the office and would like to get married and have children. That is the reality of modern-day medicine and until it changes, more practices will go under and that won’t be good for anyone.