From a doctor’s perspective it is exciting to see the Massachusetts health care reform law being implemented and all the smart and capable people who have been enlisted into the effort. The changes that are visible at the front lines of healthcare delivery are subtle and will take time to have a tangible impact. Yet they are vital.
People with critical health problems already do get cared for, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. The problem is that without some form of government or private health insurance, preventative, health maintenance services are not generally available so uninsured patients present with more acute illness and with more advanced disease and complications than they should. It seems ridiculous to have to assert such a basic fact, but it has been convincingly proven that having a doctor is good for your health.
Getting your hypertension or diabetes treated, filling your prescriptions and taking your medications are also good things and don’t happen as often without health insurance. The impact of broader coverage will be improved health and quality of life, something that will take time to become evident but also something which represents a profound social good. There are complicated and controversial policy questions on how to pay, who should pay and how to manage the costs of making healthcare available to everyone. What’s significant is that Massachusetts has made a decision that this battle is worth the effort.
David Torchiana, MD
CEO and Chairman
Massachusetts General Physicians Organization
This program aired on March 2, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.