32 Million New Patients, 0 New Doctors

By Prof Steinberg ~ July 12th, 2010 @ 12:59 am
Stethoscope
Image by surroundsound5000 via Flickr

Those are the grim numbers from Obamacare.  Under the so-called health care reform bill, 32 million new patients will have health care coverage.  However, the bill creates ZERO new doctors.   Neither the bill nor the president has explained how 32 million patients will find a primary case doctor.

To make matters worse, the USA was facing a severe shortage of primary care doctors even before Obamacare.    According to the Washington Post, the United States is expected to face a shortage of 40,000 primary care doctors over the next decade.

Obamacare does provide some incentives for doctors to choose primary care practice over specialties.  But much more significantly, for patients who obtain health coverage through Obamacare, primary care doctors will receive lower fess than currently is the case under private insurance. In other words, future primary care doctors will see more patients, work longer hours, and get paid less than primary care doctors today.   Why would anyone choose to be a primary care doctor?

In fact, since Massachusetts adopted its own universal coverage plan in 2007, the state has experienced a severe doctor shortage.  Back in July 2007, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about the doctor shortage in Massachusetts.  The story reported:

“Tamar Lewis runs a makeshift hair salon out of her one-bedroom apartment in Roxbury, a low-income neighborhood here. She’s 24 years old and has been cutting hair since she dropped out of high school in 2002. Until recently, she never had health insurance. . . .   Earlier this month, she signed up for state-subsidized insurance under a new Massachusetts law that aspires to universal coverage. The plan costs her $80 a month.

On the day Ms. Lewis signed up, she said she called more than two dozen primary-care doctors approved by her insurer looking for a checkup. All of them turned her away.”

But what about Americans who already have employer insurance?  Surely, this grim tale doesn’t apply to you.  After all, you already have a primary care doctor.  You like your health insurance.  And President Obama promised that you will be able to keep your insurance.  Right?

Wrong!

The so-called health “reform” legislation will make private insurance much more expensive.   Many employers won’t be able to afford health insurance, and will cancel their policies.  Their employees will be thrown into the pool of 32-million-plus patients, who rely on the government for their health insurance.  Unless you are a Wall Street CEO, don’t expect that your employer will provide your health insurance in the future.

Where will we find the doctors to see all these people?  As indicated in a story by the Associated Press, much of the medical care will be provided by nurses,  not doctors.  The fanciful Associated Press version is as follows:  “Instead of the traditional 10-minutes-with-the-doc-style office, a “medical home” would enhance access with a doctor-led team of nurses, physician assistants and disease educators working together; these teams could see more people while giving extra attention to those who need it most.”

For a more realistic version of the future of medical care, head to your local Department of Motor Vehicles office.  Sick Americans can plan to wait for hours in large clinics.  After waiting, the patient will see a nurse — not a doctor.  The nurse’s job will be to “process the case” as quickly as possible, so they can attend to the swarms of additional patients waiting outside.  The days when Americans had their own primary care doctor are quickly coming to a close.

The American health care system always has attempted to provide the best possible care to patients.  Under Obamacare, the goal is no longer quality.  Instead, the goal is equality.  The goal is to make sure that everyone has precisely the same substandard health care.

In his discussions of health care, President Obama often wasn’t very honest.  But Obama did promise he would change things.  And Obama profoundly has changed America’s health care system.

For the worse.

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