The Doctor Can’t See You Now, Can You Come Back Next Year?


In the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi’s version of the bill designed to implement President Barack Obama’s overhaul of the American health care system (and in the process provide coverage to 30 million currently uninsured Americans and possibly illegal aliens) passed, but immediately came under fire for being too expensive. Pundits predicted that a similar version would not pass in the Senate.

Harry Reid’s Senate version of the bill had Reid’s progressives looking at what could be cut from the House’s plan in order to make the bill more financially palatable. Since Senate Democrats seem to enjoy spending other people’s money just as much as House Democrats do, they naturally didn’t find too much. One of the things they did ultimately select, however, was the elimination of those subsidies that had been allotted to financially assisting medical residents in becoming primary care physicians and general surgeons.

By eliminating these subsidies and placing more of the financial burden on future physicians, Reid and his minions reasoned that they could keep their version of the plan under a trillion dollars, thereby making its passage in the Senate more likely. The Senate version passed, and Reid and his progressives gloated before the state-run media’s TV cameras.

Both versions had one serious flaw in common: they both failed to address what a Fox News report has identified as the premier health care challenge currently facing the nation: the severe shortage of physicians.

In fact, finalizing either version of the bill will make the shortage of physicians worse. President Obama acknowledged the problem of a physician shortage last July when he commented that:

The status quo is we don’t have enough primary care physicians.

With universal coverage, the removal of the subsidies and the addition of 30 million previously uninsured persons to the mix, Obama’s health-care reform plan is going to lead to an even greater physician shortage and longer waiting times for patients.

The Association of American Medical Colleges, for example, has predicted a primary care physician shortage of 46,000 by 2025 if nothing is done; if universal health care is passed, that figure would increase by 25%.

In Massachusetts, whose health care system served as the model for the universal coverage Obama wants to implement nationwide, the percentage of residents of that state having difficulty getting care because of the physician shortage rose to 24% from 16% between 2007 and 2008.

The reason so many are having trouble finding a doctor is that since the system was implemented back in 2006, one-half of the state’s doctors have moved to other states to practice medicine. A recent poll revealed that a shocking 33% of the state’s primary care doctors are considering changing professions due to dissatisfaction with the current practice environment which forces them to deal with crushing work-loads and a massive administrative bureaucracy. In fact, Massachusetts is not only having trouble retaining doctors, it is finding it exceedingly difficult to attract new ones.

By drastically increasing patient demand while the number of primary care physicians decreases, Obama’s vision of reform will turn health care into a nightmare. There will be longer wait times, shorter visits, higher prices, and decreased patient satisfaction. In this model, patient demand can only be met with the increased use of nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants.

In September, a survey conducted by Investors Business Daily found that 45% of doctors would consider quitting medicine altogether if Congress passes its plan to overhaul health-care.

Who can blame them? Why would anyone want to pursue a career in medicine under this scenario?