NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

As Doctors Seek To Unionize

June 24, 1999

Now that the American Medical Association's House of Delegates has voted to create a national union of doctors, the question of just who do doctors work for comes to mind. The doctors contend they need the clout of a union to cope with the demands of managed-care companies.

  • Already, seven percent of doctors belong to unions.
  • With the rise of managed care, more than 43 percent of doctors worked for others in 1997, rather than for themselves -- up from just under 33 percent in 1983.
  • Nearly 65 percent of doctors having less than five years experience worked for others in 1997 -- while just over 37 percent did in 1983.
  • Just under one-third worked for institutional employers such as hospitals or were on health-maintenance organization staffs.

Observers point out that HMOs aren't the sole source of doctors' frustration. The federal government -- in the form of Medicare and Medicaid -- has imposed its own burdens on physicians. Those programs now comprise almost two-fifths of the U.S. health-care market.

Source: Daniel J. Murphy, "AMA Looks for the Union Label," Investor's Business Daily, June 24, 1999.


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