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August 20th, 2009
08:23 AM ET

Why the doctor won’t see you now

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/07/23/health.care.end.of.life/art.cancer.gi.jpg]

Kevin Pho
Special to CNN

When President Obama recently cited the number of Americans without health insurance, he declared that, "We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women, and children."

Uninsured patients often delay preventive care, waiting to seek medical attention only when their conditions worsen. This leads to more intensive treatment, often in the emergency department or hospital where costs run the highest.

Universal health coverage is therefore a sensible goal, and the reforms being considered all make considerable effort to provide everyone with affordable health care.

But expanding coverage cannot succeed as long as there remains a shortage of primary care clinicians.

After all, what good is having health insurance if you can't find a doctor to see you?

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. RLWellman

    Let's get this number right. 46-49 million uninsured people.
    18 million young people who make $55,000 dollars a year and don't want insurance.
    12-14 million people who could sign up for medicaid, but haven't.
    10-12 million illegal aliens. Note illegal aliens.
    8 million citizens who are too poor to buy insurance.

    If you are going to keep quoting numbers, you should at least show the break down.
    Why do we have to pay for someone that makes $55,000 dollars a year?
    Why do we have to pay for 10-12 million illegal alliens?
    Why don't these 12-14 million sign up for medicaid?
    If all there is left is 8 million without insurance who are too poor to buy it themselves, what's the problem? These should be able to be paid for by the money the Government wastes each year.

    The Government's 787 billion dollar stimulis bill has 10% in the budget for losses. That's 78 billion dollars they project to lose somewhere. That could be used to pay for these 8 million citizens.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  2. joe

    How can we honestly believe there will be an increase in the medical staff in this country to treat all the people that need to be treated when we have an administration which targets people who dare put themselves through school in order to have a good paying job (>$250,000/year) to only be told by the President; "you are rich, you are bad, and you have to be my piggy bank and carry the burden of this country". Really that is what the man is implying, imagine having $400,000 in student loans to go to medical school and live in a big city like NYC where the cost of a one bedroom apartment is almost $1M. Your after tax, after expenses salary would most likely be negative for many years, but Mr. Obama says your "rich" and "your bad", so why would anyone go to school to become a doctor and he is not tackling the real issue that has led to the increase in health care costs – malpractice. Under this administration we will lose doctors – wait and see.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  3. Susan Langlois

    This is a question regarding Health Insurance Reform (notice I do not call it Health Care Reform – this country has the best health CARE in the world). I have two questions: 1. As we all know, not all primary care physicians accept Medicaid patients. If Medicaid is expanded and the public option is also available, will all primary care physicians be required to accept these patients? If not, how will we come up with the physicians and nurses to care for the people who will be on these plans?? If they are required to accept these patients, the same question applies. Also, if my private physician is swamped with the load of patients from a public option, will I be able to get an appointment in a timely manner or will I, by default, find myself competing for a physician's time with all the people who do not pay as much as I do for insurance but because the physicians are required to accept these patients, he is absolutely overwhelmed and I begin to see that there is no longer an advantage to having private insurance or has the elimination of the private insurance sector been the objective all along?? 2. If the public option is indeed passed, what is to keep every employer in this country from telling his employees either now or in the future, that he will no longer be providing these benefits and they will have to go to the public option or pay for the entire cost themselves for private insurance??
    Thank you for any answers you can provide
    Susan Langlois, RN, BSN

    August 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  4. Ruth

    If the Healthcare Reform was implemented today...would Congress still continue to have the same healthcare they have today. Why is it that we can't have the same healthcare as Congress?

    August 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  5. Janet Van der Dussen

    It amazes me when politicians ask us to assume that government does a poor job handling tax payers’ money. These Congress men and women are admitting that they have been fiscally irresponsible in the past and that they are unable to rectify the problem in the future. My response to this assessment is that anyone admitting that government leaders have done a less than adequate job should not be re-elected. However, the role of government should be to provide services for the American people. A society can not function without a strong government. Let us examine for instance what happens when a government does not provide for the American People. Let’s talk about $62,000,000,000,000.00 in Credit Default Swaps. Unregulated financial institutions gambled with investment funds and lost. This has thrust the world economy into chaos. This is what precipitated the massive bailouts using our tax payer money. Corporate CEO’s walked away with millions of dollars because our Congress men and women did not build a strong enough federal government to protect each American citizen from the greedy "dreams" of Big Business. Now Mike Pence wants us to trust the Health Insurance Companies with our lives?

    Representative Mike Pence suggested in his reply to my request for a Public Option in the Health Care Reform Bill, “Fiscal discipline is a hallmark of a free society because it enables individuals to pursue their dreams without the burdensome intrusion of the federal government.” Which burdensome intrusions does he suggest we get rid of? Perhaps he would dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the U.S. Marines, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, CIA, FBI, – need I go on? If these organizations are so “burdensome” then they should go. I’m willing to bet, however, that Representative Pence would lose his senior constituents in a micro-second if he tried to take away their Medicare – a popular well-run government program burdened by the "dreams" of doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies fighting for their fair share of corporate profits. And most agree that all our freedoms depend upon the sacrifices of those men and women serving in our military.

    I’m not afraid of our government because I pay close attention to how our leaders vote in Congress. I vote for those who have best served the needs of the people – and there are many who have served well. I have the freedom to vote, therefore, I am a vital part of this government. I am a Voter. Get rid of Federal Government and you are getting rid of me. Big Business would like that. Politicians like Mike Pence ignore the fact that through our democratic system, we elected people who promised to give us a choice when it comes to health care reform. He and others like him are the ones attempting to take away our freedom to choose. I, and millions of American citizens like me, will not let that happen.

    Thank you,

    Janet Van der Dussen

    August 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm |