NY TIMES: AMHERST, MASS. — Once they discover that she is Dr. Kate, the supplicants line up to approach at dinner parties and ballet recitals. Surely, they suggest to Dr. Katherine J. Atkinson, a family physician here, she might find a way to move them up her lengthy waiting list for new patients.
Those fortunate enough to make it soon learn they face another long wait: Dr. Atkinson’s next opening for a physical is not until early May — of 2009.
In pockets of the United States, rural and urban, a confluence of market and medical forces has been widening the gap between the supply of primary care physicians and the demand for their services. Now in Massachusetts, in an unintended consequence of universal coverage, the imbalance is being exacerbated by the state’s new law requiring residents to have health insurance.
Comment: Wow, a one-year wait for a physical in Massachusetts, that sounds like Canada! This story reminded me of an old joke about the Soviet Union. A guy goes into a Soviet car dealer and orders a Lada (pictured above). The salesman says "Your car will be ready two years from today, you can pick it up then." The customer says "Will it be ready in the morning or the afternoon on that day?" The salesman asks "What difference does that make, it is two years from now." The customer replies "Well, the plumber is scheduled to come in the morning on that day."