Owner, Self-employed at Garza Medical Association
Round Rock, Texas
i graduated med school in 1993 and have been a family physician for 20 years. i should also note that my mother was a registered nurse so i've been steeped in the medical field for most of my life.
i'll address your question in 2 parts. first is about the cost of malpractice insurance. second is about the future of the medical profession. (i won't address the cost of paying for medical education since you didn't ask about it. however, that might be most important of all.)
i've worked in several environments including private outpatient group practice, solo outpatient practice, solo inpatient practice, and as an employee of various groups including a large hospital group. i'm currently working as a "locums" doc. that means i perform independent contract work similar to a temp worker.
part 1. malpractice insurance.
although possession of malpractice insurance is both required and expensive for providers, it is simply another operating expense similar to the state license fee, board certification fee, and life support certification fees. in my specialty, family medicine, it's generally going to come to approximately 5% of your income. of course that varies wildly depending on your particular practice, location, malpractice history, etc.
about 10 -15 years ago the texas legislature passed "tort reform" measures which most doctors here welcomed. since then the cost of malpractice insurance has risen only modestly. but you might want to research what it's like in the state where you hope to practice.
bottom line: i don't know of any current provider who would dissuade you from going into the medical profession solely based on malpractice insurance costs.
part 2. future of medicine.
very difficult to answer this one. however, what we're talking about is a change away from the pay-for-service model.
some of the many implications for doctors in this transition include:
1. decreased independence of medical decision-making
2. decreased financial independence
what does this mean for someone like you who is pondering a future in the medical field?
first, being a direct medical provider will be less lucrative. some specialties will take a bigger hit than others but at this time it's hard to predict which ones.
second, independent practice will continue to decline.
third, the nature of the doctor-patient relationship will continue to evolve into something more collaborative.
i'm going to give you a bit of my own story that might help you a bit. when i was young my mother would say how the doctors she worked around or for were terrible at business. they would lose money to insurers, to lawyers, to employees, to patients, to hospitals, etc, etc.
i was hopeful of having my own solo family practice. so to avoid those pitfalls i decided to major in business management in college.
however, by the time i had finished college, medical school, and residency the prospect of opening my own office had diminished greatly. i'm not saying it wasn't possible. and, in fact, it still is possible. however, the obstacles have grown.
in that same time, the interpersonal & communication skills that i had honed during my business college years have become even more valuable in my interactions with patients.
so the medical field is definitely having growing pains. or transitioning pains.
i would agree with the previous respondent that many doctors are actively seeking the shelter of employment contracts to insulate themselves from those transition pains.
hope that helps.
Last updated Nov 30 '17 at 17:05