There was an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal last week about health care in Massachusetts. Here’s an excerpt.
“The ObamaCare preview that Massachusetts has been conducting for the last several years grows more ominous by the month, not that anyone in Washington is paying attention. So let’s check on the Bay State’s latest warning, coming soon to a hospital or medical practice near you.
A new survey released yesterday by the Massachusetts Medical Society reveals that fewer than half of the state’s primary care practices are accepting new patients, down from 70% in 2007, before former Governor Mitt Romney’s health-care plan came online. The average wait time for a routine checkup with an internist is 48 days. It takes 43 days to secure an appointment with a gastroenterologist for chronic heartburn, up from 36 last year, and 41 days to see an OB/GYN, up from 34 last year.
None of this is surprising, though it does dismantle the liberal nostrum that a new entitlement will somehow reduce health spending. When government subsidizes something, you get more of it, which means higher demand for insurance and health-care services. Combined with insurance regulations that suppress innovation and competition, this reality helps explain why Massachusetts premiums are among the highest in the U.S. The current physician shortage was inevitable without new doctors.
Massachusetts health regulators also estimate that emergency room visits jumped 9% between 2004 and 2008, in part due to the lack of routine access to providers. The Romney-Obama theory was that if everyone is insured by the government, costs would fall by squeezing out uncompensated care. Yet emergency medicine accounts for only 2% of all national health spending.
Another notable finding in the Medical Society survey is the provider flight from government health care. Merely 43% of internists and 56% of family physicians accept Commonwealth Care, the heavily subsidized middle-class insurance program. The same respective figures are 53% and 62% for price-controlled Medicaid. Government health insurance may be great, but not if it can’t buy actual health care.
The Medical Society also finds “a continued deterioration of the practice environment for physicians in Massachusetts.” Perhaps you should book your checkups now, in advance of the national sequel.”
So what do you think, is the Massachusetts project a sign of things to come or is the article politically motivated. Take the poll and let me know.