Monday, April 7, 2008

Coverage But No Care In Massachusetts

The April 5, 2008 New York Times reports that despite (or because of) state-mandated "universal health care", patients are having a harder time than ever seeing a doctor for their primary care needs. One problem is that the reimbursement rates set by the government are so low, that doctors are losing money on each patient.

According to family practice physician, Dr. Katherine Atkinson:
"I calculated that every time I have a Medicare patient it’s like handing them a $20 bill when they leave,” she said. “I never went into medicine to get rich, but I never expected to feel as disrespected as I feel. Where is the incentive for a practice like ours?”
Some patients have had to call as many as 50 doctor's offices before they could find someone who would see them. Yet the state program is running a huge deficit, due to the skyrocketing expenses. The state-run system violates the individual's right to spend his own health care dollar according to his own judgment for his own benefit. Instead, government bureaucrats dictate what sorts of insurance coverage people must be forced to purchase, with only a thin veneer of a market on top of an essentially socialized system. It's no wonder that the Massachusetts system is failing.

There's a huge difference between "coverage" and care. Government-run health care can make endless paper promises of "coverage" but this is not the same thing as actual health care. Patients in Hawaii already know the painful difference. Patients in Massachusetts are starting to learn the same lesson.