Sunday, July 6, 2008

McGuinty Government spinning primary care access numbers

Our local think tank the ICES institute released a study proving that lack of primary care access increases emergency department use. So how does our Provincial government spin that into their favour?

They repeat that "630,000 more Ontarians have access to primary care physicians" then the president of the provincial medical association goes on a press junket to repeat the same statistic. The problem is that access to a family doctor didn't keep up to population growth and even though 630,000 more people gained access 230,000 more where unable to find one. The net result over the time period is that 1% fewer people had primary care access.

The sad part is that we have an action plan already in place to increase access and it may well work. For those of you in the US, one of the side effects of universal coverage will be lack of primary care access. You may well be facing the same problems of lack of access, diversion to the emergency department and government spin. Good luck.


Steven Knope, M.D. said...

This story illustrates the fact that universal coverage (i.e. insurance for all)does nothing to increase "access" to "quality" primary care doctors. To the contrary, as we've already seen in the Massachusetts experiment, wait times for primary care doctors worsen when large numbers of people are immediately added to insurance rolls. (see recent NY Times article)

The obvious issue is that insurance is not synonymous with health care. The term "universal coverage" is just that; an insurance policy for the masses. It is an illusion of care. You may have a doctor on paper, but try getting an appointment with him when you are sick.

Steven D. Knope, M.D.
Author, "Concierge Medicine; A New System to Get the Best Healthcare."

Ian Furst said...

I agree that universal coverage does not equate to equal care but I'm not sure that concierge care (as your authorship implies) is the answer either. Universal coverage does equal some care for all, not necessarily the best. My personal view is that basic healthcare should be included in the social safety net