Sunday, July 29, 2012

NYT Notices Coverage Doesn't Equal Care

The 7/28/2012 New York Times reports, "Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law".

I was especially struck by the fact that they finally recognize that "coverage" does not equal health care:
[In the Inland Empire region of California,]President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now...
Experts describe a doctor shortage as an "invisible problem." Patients still get care, but the process is often slow and difficult. In Riverside, it has left residents driving long distances to doctors, languishing on waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care.
And by the way, which fields don't have a shortage?  The fields that are less regulated (and thus more free-market), namely plastic surgery and dermatology:
“We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, founded in part to address the region’s doctor shortage. 
(Read the full text of "Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law".)

The government is trying to find ways to "fix" the problem, but their proposed solutions unlikely to solve the problem.

And given that their policies are driving many doctors to consider quitting medicine or retiring early, I don't forsee this situation changing in the near future.