Times are tough for practicing physicians. Hospitals and medical corporations have become major employers. This situation leaves doctors with less power than ever.
The reason is that working for these companies often includes a noncompete agreement. The Federal Trade Commission hopes to end this practice. Those who understand the inherent concerns are more likely to support potential legislation.
What do noncompete agreements say?
Sometimes, physicians choose to leave their employers and become independent. A noncompete agreement limits where they may practice for a set period. Also, those doctors must stop seeing their current patients.
Why are noncompete agreements harmful?
Noncompete agreements leave doctors with reduced bargaining power. They subsequently lack the leverage to negotiate better working conditions and salaries. This may be a primary source of the increasing doctor shortage.
Physicians often have little choice but to agree to a noncompete agreement. Partnering with a large medical organization means shouldering less financial risk. Such may be necessary when young physicians are trying to pay off medical school debt. Employers sometimes agree to help reduce that obligation. This further ties medical practitioners to their current situation.
Patients suffer as well. Relationships between doctors and those they treat strengthen over time. If a doctor makes a change, patients have to move to another physician and start over.
Ending noncompete agreements for doctors would create a more dynamic marketplace. This could result in happier livelihoods for them and superior service for patients. Since better medicine benefits everyone, changing the law is bound to be popular.