Cheering for Massachsuetts Healthcare? Only if You’re A Politician

There’s quite a disconnect these days between what is said and what’s happening on the ground.

Pick your subject. Mine will be health care in our great Commonwealth.

Of course health care has been in the news locally and nationally and the common refrain from the politicians around Boston is that Massachusetts is way ahead of the curve. They point to numbers and trumpet how great our system is; if only the rest of the country would just do what we do – then everything would be fine.

But the numbers are just numbers, and having huge amounts of people insured doesn’t mean they get good care, doesn’t mean that doctors are doing well and doesn’t mean anyone is healthier.

In fact, having been immersed in health care insurance debates for years, I can honestly say the crux of the Massachusetts plan is to get everyone insured at whatever cost, but then make sure to put every roadblock in their way so they don’t actually use the insurance.

Insure, but discourage – that’s really the program here.

And things like that look good on paper, sound good in speeches, but don’t help people living regular lives on the ground. Sometimes I think the old system of “Free Care” we had was a bit better at treating people, even if a small percentage got left out.

But in those days the politicians couldn’t quote the 98 percent coverage numbers in their speeches.

Anyone who disagrees with this assessment is free to do so. Mr. Boston’s no expert on all matters.

However, I would encourage those folks to talk to an indigent person who has had a life changing event, such as a bad fall or a stroke or heart attack. Emergency care is certainly there for everyone, but once you’re stable – out the door you go.

Nursing homes and rehabs are all about how much money you have in the bank and what kind of insurance.

Ask these poor folks how it feels to be discharged from a rehab into a home where you have to walk up five flights of stairs, yet you still cannot walk and no one has tried to help you start walking again during your ‘rehab.’

So what good is that to anyone?

Then there’s the doctors.

I’ve seen great doctors leave this state by the bundles over the past 10 years, every since our wonderful system came into play.

My beloved primary care doctor actually left the profession to become a computer Information Technology director. He told me it was more predictable for the future than the medical profession. That’s a man who was an accomplished surgeon and a fantastic doctor with a human touch.

So it was no surprise to me to see a survey this week reporting that our state was the 6th worse state for doctors in the nation. Doctors have lots of debt, and they want to be successful professionally and personally. So it’s too much for us to ask them to lose money or barely get by on salaries that are some of the lowest in the nation. So what they do is leave for greener pastures. Then the guy on the ground ends up not being able to find a doctor.

The study cited Massachusetts was 46th in the nation for average wages of a physician; 46th in the nation for average monthly starting salary for physicians; 45th in the nation for number of physicians per capita by 2024; and 48th in the nation for malpractice award payouts per capita.

These are all things that young doctors run from.

Most of them started running from here years ago before those numbers were so depressing.

It took me more than five years to find another primary care doctor who was actually a doctor. Nurse Practitioners are often all that’s available to the common man or woman. Those folks do the best they can, and sometimes are very good, but they’re not doctors. I am certain more than a few people, like I do, have some horror stories associated with Nurse Practitioners who are asked to fill the role of a doctor – when they aren’t.

And so the disconnect continues. The “98 percent” number is trumpeted by people who are insured by the state with our tax dollars – the Cadillac plan of all insurance.

Everyone wants to take them as the insurance pays handsomely, dollar for dollar reimbursements. That’s good business, and I’m sure those folks have never struggled to find someone who will treat them.

The rest of us have a far different reality, especially those who can be included as “insured,” but who cannot find any place that will take that “insurance” because it reimburses at a very low rate. It’s insurance, but it’s a losing proposition.

So there’s a poor guy who is paralyzed, but because of his insurance, he can’t find any nursing homes this side of Fall River that will let him come and get better. Once they see you have the Medicaid plan that everyone’s cheering about, they ain’t cheering.

Suddenly, all the beds are full.

Full beds, doctors packing up, and health insurance you can’t really use.

Is that anything to cheer about?


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