Medical offices have been quietly shutting down since the advent of COVID-19. Insurance company complexities have not helped.
This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, WUSF News, and Google.com.
A February, 2022 Los Angeles Times article caused substantial chatter in the medical industry. Titled "Injections, Injections’: Troubling Questions Follow Closure of Big Pain Clinic Chain," the article stated: On May 13 of last year, the cellphones of thousands of California residents undergoing treatment for chronic pain lit up with a terse text message: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, Lags Medical Centers will be closing effective May 19, 2021.” In a matter of days, Lags Medical, a sprawling network of privately owned pain clinics serving more than 20,000 patients throughout the state’s Central Valley and Central Coast, would shut its doors. Its patients, most of them working-class people reliant on government-funded insurance, were left without ready access to their medical records or handoffs to other physicians.
Following the LA Times article earlier this year, word of other concerning medical closures were widely reported, leading some patients to question their options should their own medical team close up shop with or without warning.
Let us explore further.
Medical Offices, 2022
Excerpted here for the sake of perspective, an archived New York Times article from November of 2020, "Doctors Are Calling it Quits Under Stress of the Pandemic," explained the issue during the height of the pandemic: After her husband found a new job in a different state, Dr. McGregory, 49, made the difficult decision to close her practice in August. “It was devastating,” she said. “That was my baby.” Many other doctors are also calling it quits. Thousands of medical practices have closed during the pandemic, according to a July survey of 3,500 doctors by the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit group. About 8 percent of the doctors reported closing their offices in recent months, which the foundation estimated could equal some 16,000 practices. Another 4 percent said they planned to shutter within the next year.
Today, in September, 2022, the issue has abated somewhat, but repercussions have continued with little aid from insurance companies.
On September 18, for example, WUSF News reported, "Impending Hospital Closure Rattles Atlanta's Healthcare Landscape."
As excerpted from the article: Atlanta Medical Center, a 460-bed Level 1 trauma center, will be the next fixture to change. Despite banners proclaiming the hospital’s commitment to the area — “120 Years Caring For Atlanta,” one reads — its nonprofit owner, Wellstar Health System, recently announced plans to close the hospital’s doors on Nov. 1. Georgia has seen several rural hospitals shutter in the past decade, but this year Atlanta has joined other urban centers with facility closures, including a previous downsizing at a facility in the nearby city of East Point.
The article goes on to reference related political and insurance issues: The Wellstar announcement has stoked the political debate over Medicaid expansion ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Like 11 other states, Georgia has not expanded eligibility rules for its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, and hospital officials across the state say inaction has hurt their bottom lines because they still treat high numbers of uninsured patients, many of whom cannot pay for treatment.
In addition to random hospitals, many individual doctor's offices are closing throughout the country, as a targeted Google search will verify.
Readers are well-advised to consider a backup medical facility in the event, unlikely or otherwise, your local facility prepares to close, as such closures are frequently not announced far in advance.
In the event of any updates I will share them here, on NewsBreak.
Thank you for reading.