Universal Coverage in Mass. Overwhelms Primary Care Physicians

May 10, 2011
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The predicted efflux of primary care physicians in Massachusetts, as a by-product of its universal coverage of healthcare, looks like it’s a reality. A new survey released by the state’s medical society shows that more than half of all primary care physicians in Massachusetts are no longer accepting new patients, and the average waiting time to see specialists is lengthening. A microcosm of the socialized structure of Canadian delivery?

The predicted efflux of primary care physicians in Massachusetts, as a by-product of its universal coverage of healthcare, looks like it’s a reality. A new survey released by the state’s medical society shows that more than half of all primary care physicians in Massachusetts are no longer accepting new patients, and the average waiting time to see specialists is lengthening. A microcosm of the socialized structure of Canadian delivery? If these staff-to-patient ratios are any indication…well, you can be the judge:

Dr. Joseph Viadero, of Connecticut River Internists, said the four doctors and three nurse practitioners who staff the practice in Turner Falls, Mass., have about 12,000 patients spread between them and cannot take any new ones. “We’re overwhelmed and just have difficulty taking care of our own patients,” said Viadero, who has struggled to recruit any new primary care physicians to serve in the small western Massachusetts community.
[…]
Dr. Richard Dupee, a primary care physician in the Boston suburb of Wellesley, continues to accept new patients though he already has some 8,000 in his practice. He says he’s willing to put in the long hours necessary to keep up, but many younger doctors take a different approach. “They really look upon lifestyle more importantly than income,” said Dupee. “They want to quit at 5 o’clock is the bottom line.”

Universal coverage does not equal universal access. Not much more than half of Massachusetts’ internists and family docs accept an adequate number of Medicaid and subsidized care patients (via Commonwealth Care). | LINK

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