Healthcare is a mess right now, and the cost of routine care continues to skyrocket. What’s the solution to this problem of ever increasing prices and the increasing need for qualified providers?
The answer is simply nurse practitioners. For many reasons, nurse providers are cheaper, just as effective, and more abundant than doctors.
However, politics and the fear of going to a nurse for routine care are preventing this easy solution from becoming a reality. Only a handful of states have given nurse practitioners full care rights, but the others have steadfastly held to an antiquated scope of practice.
There are reasons that nurses are better choices for routine and primary care than doctors, but there are many reasons doctors don’t want the public to know that. In the end, nurses can provide routine care for far less, helping to relieve this money crisis.
Price of education
One of the reasons nurse practitioners are cheaper is the cost of education. A doctor must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a doctor, but tens of thousands is all it takes for a nurse practitioner.
Since doctors spend more on their education, they cost more. In cases of severe illness or injury, this additional education is important and effective for the patient.
Nurses trained in primary care, though, don’t have to charge nearly as much for their skills, and this means they don’t charge insurance companies as much. This disparity in educational paradigms sets up nurse practitioners as the possible white knights of the medical industry.
Outcomes for nurse vs. doctor
Studies have shown that the outcomes for patients who see nurse practitioners are comparable to those who see medical doctors. For primary care, there is virtually no difference in the health of the patient in the long term.
Doctors are concerned that patients would not get good care from a “lesser” professional and jealously guard their scope of practice. Most studies indicate that nurses are capable of handling routine problems and concerns.
The suppression of the studies favoring nurses is part of the problem, and the public isn’t aware that nurse practitioners are just as good. The American Medical Association also discounts these studies, and their opinion carries a good deal of public weight.
Competition and growing need for providers
Many doctors are also afraid of the competition that nurse practitioners would pose to them. For family practice doctors, the idea of a nurse setting up their own practice takes patients away from them.
This fear of competition is another reason that doctors refuse to acknowledge the idea of nurses performing primary care. They don’t want to lose their part of the financial compensation that comes with caring for so many patients.
Unfortunately, with the government stepping into the health insurance problem, the need for primary care givers is only going to increase. In fact, some doctor’s offices may be inundated with patients that they can’t take care of.
In the end, nurse practitioners are cheaper, more abundant, and just as effective as doctors. Once the politics and money squabbles are cleared out of the way, more states will see that, and hopefully, they will provide practice rights to these nurses in a larger portion of the country.