In the things-to-consider-for-the-sake-of-considering-them category, take a gander at this story from the May 27 edition of The Boston Globe:
After healthcare reform was made law in Massachusetts in 2006, the number of newly insured patients in the state started to grow, and so did the demand for care. The demand, coupled with a longstanding shortage of primary-care physicians, is creating a real crunch for community clinics, say advocates of healthcare reform as well as area medical professionals.
About 80 percent of the new patients at a community health clinic who are covered under the state’s new health insurance program were formerly uninsured, a clinic supervisor told the newspaper. The result is a lengthy waiting list.
Clinics the newspaper contacted have had difficulty recruiting doctors.
‘What Chapter 58 has done is highlighted the crisis and the problem that we have with the primary-care workforce,’ said Dr. Bruce Auerbach, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. According to a study conducted in 2006 by the society, 53 percent of patients who had an appointment with a primary-care physician were able to see a doctor within a week of initiating contact. Last year, only 42 percent were able to see a doctor within a week. …
Critics have said healthcare reform should not have been attempted without first addressing the workforce shortages, said John E. McDonough, executive director of Health Care for All, an advocacy group that helped craft the healthcare law. …
Healthcare advocates and providers say that the real problem is that the state underestimated the number of residents without health insurance. …
According to Jon Kingsdale, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, which administers the new health law, 340,000 people who had been mostly uninsured were covered through the state’s program as of Jan. 1. Of that number, about 110,000 have bought private insurance through Commonwealth Choice. But, he said, the remaining 230,000 people have MassHealth or Commonwealth Care, the state’s subsidized health insurance programs.
One thing that’s unclear is why the formerly uninsured choose the types of clinics mentioned in the story when it looks although they could go to any doctor. Maybe they can’t, or maybe the story didn’t address it.
Either way, the unintended consequences of insuring hundreds of thousands of people are worth considering.
Thoughts? Leave a comment on this blog.
Jeff Raymond, Medical Writer