Image credit: Humble Libertarian
by Sam Foster
So what good is it if everyone has health insurance if not everyone can use it?
According to a recent study of Romneycare, the plan has dramatically increased wait times and health care professionals refuse to take people on the state funded plans.
Almost everyone in Massachusetts has health insurance under a state mandate, but many doctors do not accept the subsidized insurance programs available to low-income residents, a new study shows.
Residents in some areas also face long waits in getting doctors' appointments, or find that overstretched primary care practices are not taking on new patients.
"Insurance coverage doesn't equal access to care," said Alice Coombs, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and an emergency room physician,
But or course, this is actually all just working wonderfully; mission accomplished!
"It's a success in terms of the number of patients who have seen a doctor in the past few years, but the physician workforce has been strained," Coombs said.
Here are some of the bitter details and behold the wonderfulness of government run health care:
Many primary care doctors do not accept MassHealth, the state's version of Medicaid, and even less accept Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice, programs for low- and moderate-income residents.
More than half of primary care practices are not taking new patients, especially patients for whose treatment they will be paid at a much lower level than for those carrying private health insurance.
Long wait times are common -- almost seven weeks, on average, for a non-emergency appointment for internal medicine. The average wait time for pediatricians. primary care for children, was 24 days, the MMS study showed.
New patient wait times in Massachusetts jumped from 2006 to 2007 after the initial implementation of the state health care reform law, and have remained high. As a result, the rate of emergency room visits to receive care has also stayed high.
You can find the study here.
It is even more interesting when you read the study and learn that a) one of the biggest factors deterring doctors is the state government involvement in health care and b) patients are looking for health care outside the state.
Residents pursuing careers out of state More than one-half (56%) of medical residents pursue the next step of their careers outside of Massachusetts, another reason for physician shortages. This figure is consistent with previous studies.
Dissatisfaction with practice environment Eighty-five percent (85%) of physicians surveyed find their careers rewarding, but 42% say they are dissatisfied with the practice environment in Massachusetts. Since 2002, nearly one-half of physicians surveyed have responded that they are dissatisfied with the practice environment. Nearly one out of four physicians currently practicing in Massachusetts indicated they are contemplating a career change because of the practice environment in the state.
Dissatisfaction with administrative hassles Forty-four percent (44%) of physicians say they are dissatisfied with the number of hours spent on patient care versus administrative tasks. The figure rises substantially for the primary care specialties of family medicine (59%) and internal medicine (56%), and for orthopedic surgeons (56%).
Just remember that polling of doctors on a national level shows that Obamacare will do the same thing.