CHICAGO – If given the option, the majority of physicians would scrap both the Affordable Care Act and the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) and opt for a single payer health care system, according to a survey of 1,059 doctors by the Chicago Medical Society (CMS).

When asked their preferred health care structure, 53% of physician said they would prefer a single payer health system, while 26% preferred the Affordable Care Act, and 13% said they would like to see the ACA repealed and replaced with the AHCA. Another 8% of doctors stated they would prefer repeal of the ACA but did not offer a replacement option.

The high percentage of physicians who favored a single payer system was surprising, said A. Jay Chauhan, DO , secretary and chair of public health for the Chicago Medical Society.

“That is a shift from past surveys,” Dr. Chauhan said during an interview at a conference held by the American Bar Association. “It certainly speaks to the frustration that physicians are [feeling] and how difficult it is to practice. I think they’re trying to reach out for other alternatives because the current manner in which we’re practicing doesn’t seem to fulfill our desires to better take care of patients.”

When asked whether they felt favorable or unfavorable toward individual reform models, 77% of doctors felt unfavorable toward the AHCA and 23% felt favorable toward the legislation. Of physicians, 67% felt favorable toward a single payer system, and 33% said they felt unfavorable toward such a model. As for the ACA, 63% of doctors felt favorable toward the ACA, while 37% felt unfavorable toward the health care law.

Respondents also choose a single payer system as their top preference when asked which health care system they believed would provide “the best care to the greatest number of people for a given amount of funding.”

A primary takeaway from the survey is that physicians want to see better access to health care for their patients and more affordable insurance coverage, said Katherine M. Tynus, MD , immediate past president of the Chicago Medical Society and president-elect of the Illinois State Medical Society.

“I think what the Affordable Care Act did was raise expectations as far as access to care and people being able to afford their health care,” Dr. Tynus said in an interview at the meeting. “Since that system seems to be failing, the expectation remains. Now, we need to find an alternative solution to achieve that.”

The online survey, released at the Physicians Legal Issues Conference held by the American Bar Association, was conducted between March 2017 and May 2017 and featured questions about health reform. Survey participants were physicians primarily based in the Chicago area or within Illinois and the majority practiced in an urban area. Respondents represented a variety of political affiliations and medical specialties. The majority said they identifying as independent (43%), and the most common specialty was general medicine (19%).

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