Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The DMVing of Medicine

Ms. Ghigliotty is one of several patients involved in a civil rights complaint filed with the New York State attorney general’s office charging that several New York City hospitals discriminate against Medicaid patients; the complaint says that Medicaid patients are referred to clinics while privately insured patients are referred to faculty practice offices, and that they do not receive the same quality of care.

New York Times April 27, 2010

After all the cheerleading for the passage of ObamaCare, the liberal press has finally discovered the major flaw in the law; millions of people will be enrolled in Medicaid but no doctors will be available to take care of them.  Ms. Ghigliotty is a 36 year old mother from the Bronx who believes it is because she is a Medicaid patient that she did not receive an accurate diagnosis for her abdominal pains until a year later when she was found to have colon cancer.  Says Ms. Ghigliotty, "The minute they hear you have Medicaid they say, ‘Sorry, we don’t accept that.’"

I would suggest to Ms. Ghigliotty that she had a bad doctor that missed the diagnosis, not because she is a Medicaid patient.  However, as for the whining that private insurance patients get to go to nice offices while Medicaid patients have to sit in crowded clinics, that's called capitalism.  Would you expect the same service if you went to Golden Corral as you would get if you went to Ruth's Chris?  Would the level of attention be the same if you took your Kia to the dealer for an oil change vs. your Lexus dealer?  So why should people who have free or nearly free health care insist on the same level of service as someone who pays for private insurance? If medicine is as egalitarian as the liberals want, then all doctors' offices will resemble the Department of Motor Vehicles: long lines, impersonal service, indifferent staff.  There will be access for all but everybody will complain about how awful it is.  Then we'll see how many missed diagnoses will occur.

1 comment:

  1. Looking at the lawsuit specifically, I wonder how many of those faculty practice offices take Medicaid. If, as I suspect, the answer is "few to none," then I hardly see how the hospital is at fault (legally or morally) for making a referral to a clinic that will accept her insurance, instead of to a private office that won't.

    Even single-payer countries have inequality in access to medical care: in the extreme case, the richest of the rich can always come to a place like the US, and there are plenty of non-edge cases that illustrate this point as well. Until people learn to accept that "top-quality" (i.e. "the most expensive") care can't be *given* to everybody equally (at least not without busting budgets), health reform in the US won't accomplish much.