Friday, May 29, 2009

Ups and Downs in Massachusetts

The May 28, 2009 New York Times reports on continued problems in the Massaschusetts system of "universal" health care.

As we've noted before, patients now have "coverage", but do not have access to actual care. The article notes:
Massachusetts, Model for Universal Health Care, Sees Ups and Downs in Policy

...The difficulties in receiving care were severest among low-income residents, who have gained the most from expanded access under the state's law, passed in 2006. It requires most residents to have health insurance and provides state-subsidized plans for the poor. Massachusetts now has the country’s lowest percentage of the uninsured -- 2.6 percent, compared with a national average of 15 percent.

But the study, which was scheduled for publication Thursday in the journal Health Affairs, found that increased demand for care from the newly insured was confronting an insufficient supply of willing physicians. One in five adults said they had been told in the last 12 months that a doctor or clinic was not accepting new patients or would not see patients with their type of insurance. The rejection rates for low-income adults and those with public insurance were double the rates for higher-income residents and those with private coverage.
The government could attempt to "solve" this problem by next forcing doctors to take patients who have the public plan. Or outlaw private plans altogether. Doctors will then no longer be independent providers of medical services, but serfs of the state. This is the path towards socialized medicine.

Or the government can abandon its attempt to guarantee universal health care and instead implement free market reforms.

The next few months will tell us which way this country will head.