Health insurance doesn’t automatically lead to health care

Well said.

NYU’s Marc Siegel writes a poignant op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, echoing much of the sentiment on this blog.

“With more and more doctors dropping out of one insurance plan or another, especially government plans,” writes Dr. Siegel, “there is no guarantee that you will be able to see a physician no matter what coverage you have.”

He goes on to cite the depressing statistics, including the fact that more than half of primary care doctors in Texas refused Medicare, and that 28 percent of Medicare beneficiaries nationwide had trouble finding a primary care physician.

If universal coverage is enacted, especially if it includes a public option, more patients will be creating demand for government programs that doctors are rejecting in droves.

The result? “The doctors that remain in this expanded system will be even more overwhelmed than we are now.”

I have a similar take, which I expressed a few months ago in the NY Times’ Room for Debate Blog:

So, while any attempt at covering the millions of Americans without health insurance is a laudable goal, doing so without addressing a health care system ill-equipped to deal with millions more patients has the potential to make an already grim situation worse.

I’m happy to see that others are seeing the problem the same way.

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  • Macobgyn

    I agree with the premise of your article. One aspect is missing. Many doctors want to see Medicaid patients and are willing to see as many as possible but are unable to do so. Managed care Medicaid companies are dropping providers who do not have privileges at a facility with whom they contract. My group, for example, would like to see MORE managed care medicaid patients for prenatal care. Because the hospital where we deliver only accepts one type of medicaid, we are limited to only those patients. THIS IS WRONG. This systems limits access to health care and punishes the patients as well as the providers who want to care for them. While the hospital systems and managed care medicaid companies haggle and negotiate over percentages, patients and providers get left behind.

  • Chuck Brooks

    Too often, ‘insurance’ as based on acturial principles, is confused with entitlement actually based on political pull. It will only get worse. At least more doctors are finally realizing where their own best interests are.
    Chuck Brooks
    FutureWare SCG

  • jb

    All they have to do is pass a regulation stating that it’s required to take all Medicare patients as a condition of licensure in the state. Problem solved.
    Think they can’t do it? Or won’t?
    They can and they will.

  • John Kalitka

    Apparently, you currently can’t decline Medicare benefits and receive Social Security benefits (even though you paid for them). This is one clever way the Federal Government hopes to prop up managed care–by pressuring Medicare recipients into accepting something they don’t want.