Friday, August 21, 2009

Universal coverage likely to fail because it will exacerbate the physician shortage: Kevin MD

Go read Kevin’s commentary over at CNN. He practices in New Hampshire and has been an observer of the unintended consequences of nearly universal coverage in neighboring Massachusetts:

Today, 97 percent of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, the highest in the country. But less publicized are the unintended consequences that the influx of half a million newly insured patients has had on an unprepared primary care system.

The Massachusetts Medical Society reported that the average wait time for a new patient looking for a primary care doctor ranged from 36 to 50 days, with almost half of internal medicine physicians closing their doors entirely to new patients. And when you consider that Massachusetts already has the highest concentration of doctors nationwide, wait times will likely be worse in other, less physician-abundant parts of the country, should universal coverage be enacted federally.

….since health reform was passed, according to state data provided to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts emergency rooms have reported a 7 percent increase in volume, which markedly inflates costs when you consider that emergency room treatment can be up to 10 times more expensive than an office visit for the same ailment.

That, of course, is one of the problems that health care reform is supposed to “fix.”

…the Association of American Medical Colleges is forecasting a shortage of 46,000 primary care physicians by 2025, a deficit that not only will balloon under any universal coverage measure…

1 comment:

hotdoc said...

I tend to agree, but one of the comments in response is that the NP/PAs will make up the difference. As an internist, I find that more amusing than worrisome, but I am interested in other perspectives. I had an NP for awhile, but found I couldn't manage the office and the patients as I wanted to that way.