Yesterday I wrote a post about the way our health care system is no longer capable of providing basic, primary care and emergency services to everyone who needs it. There are several causes for this, but the primary cause is that the “system” has been skewed away from preventive and emergency care services (in which there is no profit) and toward the creation of treatments and health care products that do make a profit.
Yesterday’s post focused on a New York Times story about Massachusett, which initiated a “universal” health care program that currently is insuring 340,000 people who had no health insurance before. And now there are not enough primary care physicians to go around. One physician has a 13-month waiting list for basic physicals.
A few wingnuts commented on this same New York Times story. Their take? “See? Socialized medicine doesn’t work!”
Question: Why isnâ€™t universal health insurance working in Massachusetts?
Answer: Good intentions also lead to shortages in everything. What the New York Times calls â€œunintended consequences,â€ I call predictable.
If we didn’t have all these wimpy good intentions, there wouldn’t be a problem. Clearly, that millions of Americans have been cut off from basic health care services is not a problem.
Another rightie, Soccer Dad, concludes that the primary care physician shortage proves Mitt Romney (credited with the Massachusetts health care program) is incompetent. Romney may be incompetent, but the fact is whenever and however the U.S. finds a way to provide decent health care services to those currently uninsured, whether by public or private means, what’s happening in Massachusetts is going to be a nationwide phenomenon.
Put another way, the only reason the insured don’t have massive waiting lines for health care services (in most parts of the country) is that so many Americans have been kicked out of the line.
In other Right Wing news — Yes, Hugh, there were arm bands and book bags in 1968. I was there. Wearing arm bands in protest of the Vietnam War was pretty common, actually.
And why can’t we have civilized debates about important issues? Read this and be amazed — at the psychological projection.
Update: Another idiot speaks —
Why, it must be some kind of doctor shortage! … Could it be, oh I don’t know, lack of incentive?
No, brainless one, there is plenty of incentive. However, all the incentive tilts in the direction of what parts of medical practice that are very profitale (i.e., new technologies and drugs) and away from those parts that are much less profitable (i.e., preventive care) or tend to lose money (i.e., emergency rooms). Your market-driven health care system at work.
And, as Kevin Heyden says, Massachusetts has better health care resources than most other states. So “what will it be like in the Southern states that are mostly rural, or the vast wide open states that grow bigger, the wester you go?”
For years I’ve been hearing health-care experts saying that the nation’s ability to delivery basic medical services to its citizens has been deteriorating, even as we continue to excel at the development of new technologies and drugs for extremely serious illness.
The lack of basic services, however, is one of the factors that is driving up the cost of health care for everyone. It would be far more cost-effective if people got regular checkups and went to doctors at the first sign of illness. However, the millions of Americans who are uninsured or underinsured tend to wait until symptoms are more severe and the illness more difficult (and expensive) to treat.
Here’s just one example — the United States on the whole has world-class hospital neonatal care for infants born prematurely or unhealthy. However, we fall far behind most other industrialized nations in providing basic prenatal care for all pregnant women. Thus, a higher percentage of American babies are born prematurely or unhealthy and need intensive, and expensive, hospital care to survive.
This is what’s called “stupid.” Naturally, wingnuts are for it.
Someone asked in the comments if we have to choose between “unevenly distributed access to health care, and evenly distributed inaccess to health care?” No, we don’t have to choose that at all. Wingnut mythology aside, most industrialized nations provide access to perfectly good health care with no waiting lines to all its citizens. Some do a better job than others, but it can be done, and at a lower cost per capita than we’re paying now. But the longer we pretend that somehow “market forces” are going to solve our health care crisis the worse the inequality will grow, because “market forces” are causing the inequality.
When we do ever switch to universal health care, it will probably take several years to build the medical infrastructure needed to deliver good basic care.