A Snapshot of U.S. Physicians

Key Findings from the 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey

News Release
Sept. 3, 2009

Alwyn Cassil (202) 264-3484 or acassil@hschange.org

WASHINGTON, DC—Almost 75 percent of physicians were accepting all or most new Medicare patients, the vast majority of physicians contracted with managed care plans, and slightly fewer than six in 10 physicians provided charity care in 2008, according to findings released today from the nationally representative Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey covers a wide variety of physician and practice dimensions, from basic physician demographic information, practice organization and career satisfaction to insurance acceptance, compensation arrangements and charity care provision. The 2008 survey includes responses from more than 4,700 physicians who provide at least 20 hours per week of direct patient care, and had a 62 percent response rate. Because of changes in survey administration, results from the 2008 physician survey cannot be compared to findings from earlier HSC Community Tracking Study Physician Surveys. However, the 2008 physician survey establishes a new baseline that will allow future tracking of how physicians organize and practice medicine.

"Physicians’ clinical decisions affect how up to 90 percent of every health care dollar is spent, so understanding how physicians are organized and practice medicine is critical for policy makers, especially as they engage in the most serious discussion of comprehensive health care reform in 15 years," said HSC President Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D.

The survey findings are detailed in a new HSC Data Bulletin—A Snapshot of U.S. Physicians: Key Findings from the 2008 Health Tracking Physician Surveyavailable here. Other key findings include:

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The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely research on the nation’s changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is funded principally by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.