Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer had an article on a coming physician deficiet: "Diagnosis for the doctor deficit".
Then, yesterday, The Wall Street Journal had an article with a map of physicians per 1,000 people, by state. For the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the number is pretty good. More than 1.5.
But, looking to the south and west, it is not so good. Further, in some of those states the population is spread out and thinner, so there is more travel for the person or the physician. For Massachusetts there are 809.2 people per square mile. For Idaho there are 15.64 people per square mile. While Maine has the same number of doctors per 1,000 people, they have only 14.3 people per square mile.
The question we should all be asking ourselves is why this is all of a sudden news? Why did our Representatives and Senators not recognize and talk about this before they voted for the Health Insurance Reform Bill that President Obama signed? This should not have been a surprise to those who were at least reasonably well informed. On the one hand we have been having a bit of a shortage of Primary Care Providers (PCP) for a while now. My PCP told me that Lowell is below the recommended number. And this is not just about Democrats. Where were the Republicans to warn us about this?
The problem is compounded by the fact that we don't all have the same common understanding about health. Some of us don't understand about how the medical system works and what we should be doing about getting shots and visiting our physician from time to time for a checkup. Some of us don't understand about taking medicine until the pills are gone, rather than until you start to feel better. And going to a PCP when something first shows up, rather than going to the Emergency Room when it gets bad. And, the common wisdom that you can catch things in a hospital, which you might not pick up in your PCP's office.
So, could we have done something about this by legislation? I would think so. What about providing education benefits via the US Public Health Service and having graduate Physicians, Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practioners pay back by working in areas where PCPs are in short supply?
Regards — Cliff
10 months ago