Are you having difficulty finding a doctor who will see you? If you are, brace yourself. Things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Right now, the biggest problems are in Massachusetts. If you live in Boston and are trying to see a new family doctor, get prepared to wait more than two months before you ever get a foot in the door. For the state as a whole, the average wait to see a new family doctor is one month. More than half of all family doctors and more than half of all internists are not accepting new patients at all.
What if you live in another state? Just wait two more years. In Massachusetts people are lined up waiting to see doctors because of the health reform championed by the former governor (RomneyCare). And as Barack Obama has said on more than one occasion, RomneyCare is the model for ObamaCare.
Why? In both the Massachusetts health plan and the new health care law the mistake is the same: insuring the uninsured, but doing nothing to enable the medical community to deliver more care. Massachusetts succeeded in cutting the number of uninsured in half — a worthy accomplishment. But the state did nothing to expand the number of doctors, nurses or paramedical personnel. The result: a major increase in the demand for care, but no change in supply.
I learned what this means in human terms a while back from a Boston cab driver. She was on MassHealth (Medicaid) and her biggest problem, she told me, was getting care. "I went down a list of 20 doctors before I found one who would see me," she said. "Twenty doctors?" I responded incredulously. "Were you going through the Yellow Pages?" "No," she said, "I was going down the list MassHealth gave me."
In Massachusetts, this is what the advocates of health reform call "universal coverage."
Bad as all this is, it is actually rather mild compared to what is about to happen in other states. In Massachusetts, less than 10 percent of the population was uninsured before the reform set in. In Texas, by contrast, one in every four people is currently uninsured. Insure half of those and the demand for Texas doctors is going to soar.
John C. Goodman is President and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, and author of the acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts." He is also the Kellye Wright Fellow in health care. The mission of the Wright Fellowship is to promote a more patient-centered, consumer-driven health care system.