One of the many, many things that drove me nuts about the health care debate was this framing:
There are not enough primary-care doctors to meet current needs, and providing health insurance to 46 million more people would threaten to overwhelm the system.
Obama administration officials, alarmed at doctor shortages, are looking for ways to increase the supply of physicians to meet the needs of an aging population and millions of uninsured people who would gain coverage under legislation championed by the president.
Health care is always presented in terms of scarcity and fear, where those who we politely term “the uninsured” are going to be mobbing in and grabbing a piece of a fixed “system” that is currently parceled out to “the insured”.
Now that those of you who go without primary care might have a way to pay for it, we’ve hit a brick wall on delivery.
We in the system are afraid you will overwhelm the system. There simply isn’t enough to go around. Sorry.
Is this how a mature grown-up country behaves?
Why not just calmly and deliberately look to providing the service, now that the payment mechanism is or will be in place? People who are terrified generally don’t make good decisions. Maybe we could stop scaring both those “in the system” and those with their noses pressed up against the glass?
Thirty million people who will now have a method to pay for health care isn’t horrible and frightening. It’s a good problem to have. It’s simply the predicate to the next step, which is delivery. An opportunity for someone to step up, fill the huge, gaping hole we decided was “acceptable” for some insane reason, and provide primary care to the people who aren’t getting any. Because if they are going to be flooding waiting rooms when they are insured, they aren’t just “the uninsured”. They’re “the people who don’t get health care”.
Whichever provider group is first in with a proposed solution should get serious consideration, like, 28 states serious, and that’s happening. That’s good. It’s what’s supposed to happen.
It doesn’t have to be a frightening scenario where those of us in “the system” are protecting the allotment we’ve managed to secure, leaving 30 million people to “crowd the waiting room”, fighting for scraps.