A survey of New Jersey doctors finds nearly 1 in 2 have altered their practice structure in the past year.

John Fanburg of the Roseland law firm Brach-Eichler, which conducted the survey, says doctors told them they are merging with larger practices or hospitals.

"This migration to consolidation, either with their peers or to go work for hospitals, has been significantly increasing," he says.

"For many years, we were mostly a state of practitioners who practiced in groups of smaller than five people.  And when they would try to consolidate, they would typically break up over time because of physicians enjoyment of independence and autonomy. It is impossible to do that today effectively and compete."

Some other findings in the Brach-Eichler survey:

— Most physicians are billing in network.

— The docs cited insurance companies as the primary reason for the nation's health care crisis: 2 out of 3 in the survey agreed with that. But 75 percent said too many people without insurance is the problem.

— The survey also found 53 percent of Jersey doctors said they are bracing for a tough year ahead.

"I think the increase of that kind of negative response or insecurity has to do with the increased uncertainty in terms of where their business and industry is headed."

Fanburg says many practices are also seeking to sell to Wall Street equity firms.

"That has been going on across the country for some time. But here in New Jersey, we have seen a significant uptick in that type of transaction."

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