A quarter of head and neck surgeons think Obamacare has death panels

December 19, 2013

Obamacare's death panels are alive and well -- at least among the imaginations of America's head and neck surgeons.

The journal Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery recently sent a questionnaire to to 9,972 head and neck surgeons that had 10 basic questions about the health-care law. It's one that Kasier Family Foundation created in 2010, which you can take yourself here.

The 647 responses that came back were ... depressing. Twenty-seven percent of respondents thought that the health-care law includes a "government panel [that] makes end-of-life care decisions for Medicare." This would be the so-called death panel rumor that ran rampant during the congressional debate over health care.

death panels

The Affordable Care Act did initially include a provision that would reimburse Medicare doctors for having discussions about, but not necessarily recommending, end-of-life options. But that was taken out in early 2011 after a front page article in the New York Times highlighted the issue.

The researchers also sorted the responses by doctors' opinions on the Affordable Care Act. They found that those who oppose the health-care law were more likely to believe that these panels exist. Forty-one percent of those who "strongly oppose the law" thought the panels existed, compared to 13 percent of those who are strong supporters.

The head and neck surgeons did better on the end of pre-existing conditions (93 percent knew about that provision but worse on coverage for undocumented immigrants (30 percent thought they would receive financial assistance, which they will not). The article is gated but available here.

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Lydia DePillis | December 19, 2013