Remember Romney Care?
To refresh memories, the former Massachusetts governor enacted something very similar to the Obama health plan.
It’s still largely in place.
And, it still isn’t working well: Costs are up, folks are gaming the system, and people with insurance can’t get in to see doctors.
Here’s a flashback to further refresh memories.
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Excerpted from WSJ: The Failure of RomneyCare
The Bay State is suffering from what the Massachusetts Medical Society calls a “critical shortage” of primary-care physicians.
As one would expect, expanded insurance has caused an increase in demand for medical services. But there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in the number of doctors.
As a result, many patients are insured in name only: They have health coverage but can’t find a doctor.
Fifty-six percent of Massachusetts internal medicine physicians no longer are accepting new patients.
For new patients who do get an appointment with a primary-care doctor, the average waiting time to see a doctor is 44 days.
As Dr. Sandra Schneider, the vice president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, told the Boston Globe last April, “Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean there’s a [primary care] physician who can see you.”
The difficulties in getting primary care have led to an increasing number of patients who rely on emergency rooms for basic medical services. Emergency room visits jumped 7% between 2005 and 2007.
Officials have determined that half of those added ER visits didn’t actually require immediate treatment and could have been dealt with at a doctor’s office — if patients could have found one.
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The promise that getting everyone covered would force costs down also is far from being realized.
One third of state residents say that their health costs had gone up as a result of the 2006 reforms.
A typical family of four today faces total annual health costs of nearly $13,788, the highest in the country. Per capita spending is 27% higher than the national average.
Insurance companies are required to sell “just-in-time” policies even if people wait until they are sick to buy coverage. That’s just like the Obama plan.
There is growing evidence that many people are gaming the system by purchasing health insurance when they need surgery or other expensive medical care, then dropping it a few months later.
Some Massachusetts safety-net hospitals that treat a disproportionate number of lower-income and uninsured patients are threatening bankruptcy.
They still are treating a large number of people without health insurance, but the payments they receive for uncompensated care have been cut under the reform deal.