Is There a Way To Reduce the Cost of Primary Care?

After reading this passage and doing your own research please write a 500 – 600 words (2 pages) of your opinion on the question, that is, “Is There a Way To Reduce the Cost of Primary Care?”
Another way of asking the question is, would one allow themselves or their family member(s) to be treated by an advanced practice nurses who comprised of nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives.

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The shortage of primary care physicians and the increased popularity of managed care, with its emphasis on cutting costs, have provided momentum to those who advocate greater autonomy for nurses in treating patients. By allowing advanced-practice nurses to take over some of the more routine duties now reserved for physicians, the United States could save billions of dollars in medical care costs annually. Advanced-practice nurses, comprised of nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives, usually have two years of clinical training beyond the four-year baccalaureate degree. As such, even without experience, they have more training than first-year residents who provide a great deal of the primary care in the nation’s teaching hospitals.

Legislation dating back to the 1930s restricts nurses in two important ways. First, nurse practitioners do not have prescriptive authority in many states, which means they are unable to write prescriptions unless they are in a collaborative practice with a licensed physician. Second, not all payment sources, including many private insurance companies and the government, recognize nurse practitioners as qualified providers and thus will not directly reimburse them for their services.

Still, more than 100,000 advanced-practice nurses nationwide offer physical exams, immunizations, preventive screening, and treatment for minor illnesses such as ear infection, sore throat, and the flu. Many see nurse practitioners, who offer their services at a 30 to 70 percent cost-saving compared to general practitioners, as a way to lower costs and improve access to primary care in many under-served areas. Critics, however, feel that lowering the barriers to nurse practitioners will only drive more physicians from general practice into the higher-paying specialties and in the long run will do little to lower costs and improve access.

How many of the restrictions on nursing are based on concerns over quality of care and how many are merely a cultural artifact of an era when female nurses assisted male physicians? One thing is certain: As concern over cost cutting grows, the barriers to an expanded role for nurses will gradually disappear. It is simply a matter of time until economics once again promotes a more effective use of scarce resources.

What is your opinion on the above matter?

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