Massachusetts learns about the primary care shortage the hard way

I told you so, again.

A story from NPR (via WhiteCoat) validates what medical blogs have been discussing over the past year:

Health care reform in Massachusetts has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people with health insurance. But there’s an unintended consequence: A sudden demand for primary care doctors has outpaced the supply.

Sound familiar? I suppose I can’t be entirely surprised, as most reform plans are conceived and executed without significant physician input.

This is the obvious result of instituting coverage without first ensuring enough primary care supply. Consider the Holyoke Health Center, which “has been inundated with calls from newly insured people seeking a doctor. More than 1,600 people are on its waiting list . . . it takes about four months to get a first appointment.” Or how about the stories that family physician Kate Atkinson tells, where she says that “people [are] crying and begging to come into the practice.”

Keep in mind that Massachusetts has the highest density of primary care doctors per capita in the country. As the Obama administration institutes a plan very similar to Massachusetts, expect this problem to be felt much more acutely nationwide.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

topics: primary care shortage, massachusetts

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