A recent study by the Mayo Clinic investigated physician “burnout” and compared the rates across all specialties from 2011 to 2014. What they found should be of grave concern to all of us as existing or potential future patients. Given the demands placed on healthcare providers by the ACA (OBAMACARE), increased regulatory compliance rules and administrative burdens, decreased reimbursement from both government healthcare plans (Medicare, Tri-care, Medicaid etc) and private health insurance and the erosion of the physician-patient relationship (physicians and patients deciding about care as a team for the betterment of the patient), physician burnout has skyrocketed. It has surpassed that of any other profession in the US and is leading to physicians seeking alternative employment or retiring early, during their peek years when their expertise is needed most. Studies have confirmed that it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to master techniques. Given that some medical specialists do not complete their training until their early 30’s (if they never take a break from college, medical school, internship, residency and fellowship), they do not reach their pinnacle years until mid-40’s. It are these physicians we need most as they become experiences and experts in treating diseases/injuries in their respective specialties. Now, given the healthcare environment, it are these providers that are reaching burnout a the fastest rate ever and looking to do something else with their professional lives and give up medicine altogether. With fewer qualified providers, it is easy to see how healthcare costs will decrease: less access = less care = decreased costs. The ACA supporters and others with no “skin in the game” who regulate healthcare will tout it as improved quality and efficiency as the driver of lower costs, when in fact, it is the exact opposite: increased inefficiency and decreased quality = increased denial of care = inability of physicians to do what they are trained and best at doing: CARE FOR PATIENTS = lower costs. As many in the trenches of healthcare see it, care has eroded and physicians now spend nearly 33% of their time on wasteful documentation of irrelevant information within electronic record systems to meet “compliance” that has no impact on direct patient care. Then why all of the mandates associated with the ACA? It allows tracking of disease and injury and helps to determine over-utilization so that insurers and CMS can increase regulation on those aspects of care that cost more. But is that good for patients? Is that good for those providing care? Studies are increasingly showing that none of this is good for patients and providers. So what will happen when an already shortage of physicians (90,000 docs short by 2025) becomes worse as 50% of the experienced docs quit or retire? What is the real cost to society when we do not have enough trained and qualified healthcare providers? What bright students will forgo their entire 20’s and early 30’s and incur debt of $200-$500,000 knowing they will never pay it back and may not be able to enjoy the fruits of their education? Unintended consequences of the ACA may be the most detrimental to the US Healthcare system in a generation and physician burnout is one of those.