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.