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In order to figure out why it’s so hard to get a doctor’s appointment, or even obtain a primary care doctor in the first place, the Health and Human Services Department proposed to send “mystery shoppers” into doctor’s office.This notice — via ABC’s Jake Tapper — was posted by the HHS back in April, and basically it’s exactly what you’d expect from such a plan: send mystery shoppers into various offices posing as either insured or uninsured patients, who would then report back on the process of seeing a physician.
Naturally the AMA is angry at the intrusion:
“We know there is a physician shortage in this country that will only grow worse as more people enter Medicare and coverage is expanded to those currently uninsured. The government should be working to address this shortage so all patients can have access to the health care they need, rather than using mystery shoppers to tell us what we already know.”
The AMA is right here, and the fact that this project needs to be done now really exposes a huge flaw in Obamacare, which is that it didn’t do anything to address supply of healthcare, which is the real growing concern in light of the ageing society. Sure, we can change how healthcare is paid for to make it more equitable, and also there are probably gains to be had from smarter choices about what treatments we use when. But all this is demand-side thinking, with no focus on what, fundamentally, causes healthcare inflation to outstrip everything else.
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