Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Doctor Shortage in Massachusetts

We keep checking back on Massachusetts to see how their experiment in expanding health care is going. Since the state's Health-Care Reform Act, an additional 440,000 people have become insured. The path being tread has been a balancing act from the start. A myriad of factors assert their influences upon the day-to-day mechanics of trying to bring health care to the state's entire population.

Each time we bring our gaze back to Massachusetts, we find more practical lessons to learn from their path-finding exploration in the realm of health care and coverage. This time, we discover a growing shortage of doctors to provide for the health care needs of the thousands of newly insured.

Via Christine McConville at The Boston Herald:

The data comes from the medical society’s annual work-force survey.

For starters, it shows a shortage of physicians who practice internal medicine, family medicine, oncology, neurology, dermatology, emergency medicine, general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, psychiatry, urology and vascular surgery.

[Medical Society President Bruce] Auerbach said some of the shortages are due to the gap between the cost of living in Massachusetts, and what insurance companies and the government will pay for certain medical procedures.

There are also widespread fears of being sued.

As we explore the web of factors that influence the path to universal health care, it seems we shall need to keep in mind that providers are an important piece of the puzzle. Access is essential if coverage is to mean anything substantive.

SOURCE: "Study Sees Doctor Shortage" 10/06/08
photo courtesy of Subconsci Productions used under its Creative Commons license

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