From the Wall Street Journal:
Thousands of people are cramming in tests, elective procedures and specialist visits before year’s end, seeking out top research hospitals and physician groups that will be left out of some 2014 insurance plans under the new health law, health-care providers say.
Many insurers offering plans under the law are slimming down their networks of doctors and hospitals in a bid to lower the cost of policies, which begin coverage Wednesday.
Health insurers are especially focused on paring academic teaching and research hospitals from their networks because they generally charge more than community hospitals for similar services. …
Some 70% of new plans under the health law offer relatively narrow networks compared with many current plans, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. report.
Obamacare is expected to increase patient demand for medical services. Combine that with a worsening shortage of doctors, and next year you may have to wait a little longer to get a doctor’s appointment. And the crowded emergency room may become even more so. …
What happened in Massachusetts in 2006 when the state’s mandated health insurance rules went into effect illustrates the impending national problem.
When the Massachusetts law kicked in, wait times to get an appointment at primary care physicians’ offices increased significantly, and they’ve remained high ever since, according to anannual survey from the Massachusetts Medical Society. And Massachusetts has the second highest physician-to-population ratio of any state.
When patients couldn’t get doctor’s appointments they once again turned to emergency rooms. A Harvard study found all 11 of the emergency rooms that researchers studied in Massachusetts became busier after the law went into effect.
Read more at CNN.com.
In the Atlantic, Avik Roy writes:
Chapin White of the Center for Studying Health System Change has published an important new paper in Health Services Research, a journal of health economics, which suggests that a critical part of the Affordable Care Act–its expansion of Medicaid coverage to 16 million more Americans–may actually reduce those individuals’ access to health care. …
Believe it or not, physicians even do better caring for the uninsured than they do caring for Medicaid patients. Two MIT economists, Jonathan Gruber and David Rodriguez, have found that three-quarters of physicians receive lower fees for serving Medicaid patients than they do for the uninsured, because many people without health insurance are still able to pay out-of-pocket for routine health expenses.
How? Medicaid notoriously underpays doctors, so Medicaid patients have trouble accessing them. When Medicaid eligibility expands, many newly eligible people drop “private” health plans to enroll.
Read the whole post: Why Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Will Reduce Health Care Access – The Atlantic.
CTV of Canada reports:
Canadians with chronic conditions are frequent users of the health-care system, but a new report shows many experience considerable difficulty getting the medical treatment they need.
Read more: ‘Sicker’ Canadians struggle to obtain treatment: report.
Via John Goodman’s blog & Medibid.
The Telegraph reports that in England:
Elderly patients are being condemned to an early death by hospitals making secret use of “do not resuscitate” orders, an investigation has found. …
Action on Elder Abuse, an independent charity, carried out its own analysis of the official watchdog’s inspection reports. The charity’s findings, published today, uncover widespread evidence that patients are being left to die, without families knowing that such decisions have been taken.
Read more: Elderly patients condemned to early death by secret use of do not resuscitate orders.
(Via FIRM, Health Care BS)
The Telegraph (UK) reminds us that single-payer “universal” health care is really universal misery:
A senior doctors’ leader has warned that the NHS is “creaking at the seams” as official figures showed almost a third more patients are waiting too long to be treated in hospital.
Read the whole article: NHS ‘creaking at the seams’ as waiting lists rise – Telegraph.