Georgia Health Care Reform – Rx for Doctors

Just because you have health insurance in Atlanta, Georgia does not mean you have access to health care. A lot depends on the kind of health insurance you have in determining which doctors, if any, are willing to treat you.

Traditional health insurance plans from companies like Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross, United and Humana will get you in the door with any doc or hospital in greater Atlanta. But if you have a government insurance plan, like Medicare, Medicaid or Peachcare you may run into a problem. Hard figures are difficult to come by but national averages turn out numbers like this.

Roughly one out of five doctors do not treat any Medicare patients and 25% are not accepting new Medicare patients. Primary care has the biggest squeeze on new and existing patients. Most docs try to limit their total Medicare patient load to less than 20%.

If you are on Medicaid or Peachcare the numbers are even more bleak.

Think about this if you are in support of a government run “public option”.

The Baltimore Sun recognizes there is a doctor shortage, and especially for those covered by government insurance.

That 30 million Americans may soon be able to obtain health care insurance is at the core of the Senate and House health care bills. But let’s be clear: “insurance” doesn’t guarantee “care.” Indeed, a recurrent theme on the Senate floor last week was that the legislation is giving “bus tickets” – that is, health insurance – to uninsured Americans. But there are no buses running on those routes.

Define soon . . .

Bear in mind that if legislation passes, overhauling the way health care is funded, most of the provisions will not come into play until 2013 – 2014. If you need health care now, get in line.

And what happens when there’s a sudden increase in the number of insured, with no consequent increase in physicians? There’s already a model for the disconnect between “insurance” and “care”: Health reform in Massachusetts, begun in 2006. In that state, 97 percent of residents have insurance. But nearly a quarter of residents had difficulty getting care in 2008.

Read that again.

Almost everyone has health insurance but one in four have difficulty getting health care.

The Sun goes on to say the solution is to create more primary care doctors.

If only it were that easy.

Doctors are not created overnight. Start with 4 years of college, 3 years of medical school, residency and internship and you are looking at almost 10 years to even begin to “fix” the problem. By then the boomers will already be soaking up as many Social Security and Medicare dollars as possible and the “T” (for tax) generation will be trying to figure out a way to pay for all those promises and campaign slogans from 2008 and later.

Right now you can still find health care and affordable health insurance in Georgia, but for how much longer is anyone’s guess.


  1. This is so true, what we need is more nurses—and more primary care physicians.

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