Healthcare Gridlock Is Coming


Get ready for healthcare gridlock. Once the new healthcare law fully takes effect, all Americans will be entitled to a long list of preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs, but the healthcare system won’t have enough doctors to provide them. The shortage will create longer waiting periods that some patients will be able to cope with better than others. Lower income patients will be worse off, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow John C. Goodman.

“As physicians increasingly have to allocate their time, patients in [health] plans that pay below-market prices will likely wait longest,” Goodman writes in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. “Those patients will be the elderly and the disabled on Medicare, low-income families on Medicaid, and (if the Massachusetts model is followed) people with subsidized insurance acquired in ObamaCare’s newly created health insurance exchanges.”

Many patients who can afford to do so will sign up for concierge care—medical practices in which patients pay a retainer fee for more personalized and responsive service, such as same day or next-day appointments. Physicians who open a concierge practice typically take about 500 of their patients with them, leaving behind 2,000 former patients to find a new doctor. (Those figures come from MDVIP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, respectively.) “So in general, as concierge care grows, the strain on the rest of the system will become greater,” Goodman continues. “We will quickly evolve into a two-tiered health-care system, with those who can afford it getting more care and better care. In the meantime, the most vulnerable populations will have less access to care than they had before ObamaCare became law.”