Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Corralled in the waiting room

I took my daughter to her pediatrician's office for her shots at five years old. What a madhouse that waiting room was. We got there in time for our appointment but had to wait until forty minutes after the appointment time to be seen. And we didn't even have to see the doctor. The nurse was the one who gave the vaccinations. The waiting room was standing room only. There were people sitting on the floor in the hallway outside the office.

When we were walking to our examination room, we passed by the doctor. He was all smiles and gave a quick hello before going into another room. I don't know how he does it. If it was me, I'd have a big storm cloud over my head virtually all day long working in that environment. That's one reason why I didn't go into primary care. And probably why fewer medical students are going into primary care each year.

So what happens when there is universal health insurance, either by mandate or single payer? Where would all these new patients find doctors who have the time to take care of them? Presumable everybody in that waiting room has health insurance. Would he have to close his practice to new patients if everybody is trying to break into his front door? Would people then have to resort to the emergency room to get their routine care, like the uninsured do now? These are concerns that are not being discussed during this health care debate.

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