Blog | Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Internists, FPs alike trying to help their patients through the recession

The economy is prompting internists and family physicians to increase charity care, discount fees and offer free screenings, according to a survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

ACP Internist reported its own poll results earlier in May asking internists how they handled patients who couldn't afford to pay. ACP members reported they most commonly offered free care or reduced payments (66.7%), offered free samples for prescriptions (61.1%) or referred to community clinics (34.7%).

Nearly 90% of the AAFP crowd reported their patients expressed concerns over their ability to pay, 58% had seen more appointment cancellations and 60% had seen more health problems caused by patients forgoing needed preventive care such as such as pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopies, or failing to return for follow-up visits or refills.

  • 66% were discounting fees, increasing charity care, providing free screenings, and moving patients to generics;
  • 54% have seen fewer total patients since the recession began in January 2008;
  • 73% saw more uninsured patients;
  • 64% of respondents reported a decrease in the number of employer-sponsored/privately insured patients; and
  • 87% saw more patients with major stress symptoms since the beginning of the recession.