Austin doctors express fears, hopes about Obamacare

With the biggest chunks of the Obamacare health law debuting in 2014, leaders of physician groups in Travis County said Friday that while they believe the nation’s health system must change, they worry about doctor shortages, financial security and getting patients to adjust. The law aims to give doctors financial incentives so they focus more on the quality of care they deliver and less on the number of procedures they do. The law also requires doctors to be more efficient, but there’s a limit to how much they can cut costs and still stay in business, said Dr. Michelle Berger, an ophthalmologist who is president of the Travis County Medical Society.

“It still remains to be seen if the solution is better or worse” than the current system, Berger said. “I see a lot of physicians who are quite worried.”

Come January, Obamacare intends to provide coverage to millions of uninsured Americans by expanding eligibility for Medicaid, the federal-state program for the needy, and by creating an online marketplace for buying health insurance, with subsidies for those with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line. This year, the poverty level is $11,490 for an individual and $23,550 for a family of four. People can start shopping online for coverage as early as October.

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