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About half of physicians support single-payer healthcare system, LinkedIn survey says

Many cited efficiency as a main reason for their stance, saying it's often a hassle to work with many different insurance companies.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Nearly half of physicians polled in a new LinkedIn survey said they would support a single-payer healthcare system, which would essentially establish Medicare-like coverage for all age groups rather than relying on the current model of insurance coverage.

Of the 500 doctors who responded to the survey, 48 percent said they favored a single payer model. Many cited efficiency as one of the main reasons for their stance, saying it's often a hassle to work with a number of different insurance companies, each with its own billing practices.

[Also: Single payer activists brandish new data on administrative waste]

While they acknowledged that they may take a financial hit under a single-payer system, they also said there were hidden costs to consider in the current system. Many doctors want to avoid making collections a part of their business models. They also said tracking down payment from disparate insurance companies is burdensome, and would rather this function be handled by the federal government.

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According to BMC Health Services Research, costs related to billing and insurance amounted to $70 billion for physician practices in 2012.

About 64 percent of doctors in the survey said they have measures in place to collect from patients with high deductible plans; one-third offer payment plans, and 26 percent require payment up front. Nineteen percent have hired financial counselors or other additional staff.

Time was an issue for 54 percent of the physicians surveyed, who said they spend at least four hours per week negotiating with insurance companies, calling when their treatments are denied coverage and changing their prescribing plans when certain drugs aren't covered.

[Also: Single payer healthcare proposal introduced in California Senate]

Doctors who are opposed to a single-payer system say it would stifle innovation and reduce competition, while others said they don't trust the federal government to implement such a system.

The findings come as Congress is wrangling over the future of the Affordable Care Act, the first significant overhaul of the nation's healthcare system in decades. Former President Obama's signature legislation has been gaining popularity in the polls as Congressional Republicans have been looking for ways to dismantle it. A GOP-crafted replacement, The American Health Care Act, failed last month in the face of staunch opposition from Democrats and many conservative Republicans.

Twitter: @JELagasse