Healthcare wait times 11

Since I have already touched on the issue of healthcare and SCMProfessor was kind enough to forward this along I thought I would share this video representation of healthcare wait times in GA and MA. Massachusetts was chosen because it has a universal coverage plan similar to the one Obama is calling for.

(I am not sure what kind of appointments they are waiting for, by the way, since I have always been able to get an appointment within a day if urgent or 5 days for a regular check-up. Less if I do not care which doctor in the firm I see.)



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11 thoughts on “Healthcare wait times

  • Drew Tatusko

    my sister is a student in boston and had what could have been major surgery on her lower back. the only reason for wait time was due to the sensitivity of the surgery they were doing since there was a high probability of a malignant tumor. so is this data counting the time from her initial consult to the actual surgery date? if so that would skew the mean a lot.

    on the other hand, my other sister lived in atlanta for a while. in order for her son to get a consult for a nerve issue in his arm, they ended up going to charlotte so that they could get the diagnosis and treatment plan in a timely fashion.

    yet, in japan, which has universal coverage, to get mri tests, wellness checkups, etc. you can actually do a walk-in in many clinics where the wait time is often about 15 minutes. there was a good frontline piece called sick around the world where a comparison of different systems was illustrated to show pros and cons of them. every system has its flaws. the question is, would someone in japan or sweden trade their system for ours? they would actually laugh at you in response.

  • Kevin A. Wilson

    One problem is that they are comparing statistics for the entire state of Georgia with just the city of Boston. They also make no mention of how much access the health care the poor have in Georgia vs. that in Massachusetts.

    I live in Massachusetts. Although I am not a big fan of the state, I can’t complain about the health care that much. I pay $246 for individual insurance each month (I own my own business and teach part-time as an adjunct, so I get no benefits). I live in one of the poorest cities in the country, and I have had trouble getting appointments there. But I have a doctor in the next city over (3 miles away). I have gotten a new primary care provide twice in the last few years. Each time it took me less than a week to get a first time appointment. Subsequent visits have been just as quick. Mental health services are a bit slower, but even then I just had to wait three weeks.

    The statistics in the video also do not take account of the amount of federal dollars that go into health care. For every dollar it pays in federal taxes, Massachusetts receives from the federal government $0.82, a net loss. Georgia receives $1.01 for every dollar it gives, meaning it is basically breaking even. That means Massachusetts has less federal money to spend on health care than Georgia. In other words, in Georgia, which receives more federal money, wait times are lower, while in Massachusetts, which receives fewer tax dollars back, wait times are longer. (FYI, your state of PA receives $1.07 per dollar it pays.)

    This statistic by itself is not determinative, but neither is the one statistic compared in the video. Individual spending on health care does not equate to total spending on health care. Federal and state spending need to be factors in the equation as well.

    While I was in Lithuania — a country with heavily subsidized health care — we rarely had to wait more than a day for an appointment and it was incredibly cheap. And we had access to the inexpensive health care even though we were not citizens and paid no Lithuanian taxes.

  • Scott F

    Also, one result of the mandatory coverage aspect of the MA law is that many have taken out barebones policies with $2,500 deductibles. How much preventative care do you think they are going to seek out? The Mass plan has hit unforeseen consequences that will hopefully be instructive as healthcare reform moves forward.

    Also, how do you factor in the infinite wait time a poor person has to see a specialist?

  • Chris Brady Post author

    Joe – does this mean you are deleting my feed? I hope not and I hope that everyone can see that I was merely trying to generate discussion. Thank you to Kevin, Drew, and Scott for your comments. It is a complex topic and problem. There are indeed positives and negatives about every program.

    Drew, I think the Japanese and Swedes would laugh at such a question but out of as much ignorance as we have about their systems. I know when living in England that many British wished they had a system like the US, it all depends upon your needs and perspective.

  • Joe Weaks

    Chris, I’m sorry. Shouldn’t have been clever about it. It’s just that the handful of biblioblogs I subscribe to, I read. That means that I take the time to read, or in this case, watch what you’ve suggested I watch. So, I’m readjusting what gets my attention, that’s all.
    This video was inane and ignorant and misleading. Comparing wait times between a state and an urban sample? Lame. And, you’re a gospel preacher, and that means knowing that question number one is how were poor people cared for in each system. And the poor that are cared for in our current health care systems simply factor into our taxes as opposed to our health care premiums. The video is not so much a discussion starter as it is propaganda worthy of prime time on Fox & Friends.

    • Chris Brady Post author

      Joe – Thank you very much for replying. My only disagreement would be that the video was not a discussion starter. It has indeed generated some discussion here and more elsewhere.

      I appreciate your comments here and others on the other post talking of the Christian concerns and commitments in this debate. It is something that I take very seriously I wonder, however, whether our Christian commitments should be lived out through our government or through other organs. Healthcare is something that is so massive that it may be like the military or the interstate system, something that only government supervision and organization can manage. But then again…

      Perhaps I need to make a regular and more full post about this because I feel our Christian commitments are clear, care for the needy, “the widow and the orphan and the stranger in your midst” as the prophets and Torah would have it. It is the mechanisms that I am wrestling with and I am grateful for all the discussion and insight offered.

  • Chris Brady Post author

    A couple of you have said that this video is misleading because it is comparing a state versus a city but it is Atlanta v. Boston (not GA v. Boston). Atlanta has 5.3M in its metro area, Boston has 4.5M in its metro area according to Wiki). That seems fairly comparable to me.

    What am I missing?

    Please bear in mind folks that I am not arguing for this video, there are strong arguments being brought forward, especially by Kevin and Drew and I appreciate that.

  • Steve

    Well, I am glad to see that I, as @SCMProfessor, can start such great discussions by sending a link to my brother.

    That said, I agree that it is bad research to compare a city’s average wait time with that of a whole state. It’s also shoddy scholarship to confuse the city Atlanta with the state Georgia. I also would agree that it is bad form (and intellectual short-cutting) to suggest that any individual example in any way can be used to show that an average wait time is some how “wrong.”

    Here’s the real bottom line: if we are already paying for “poor people” to get healthcare through our tax system, then where is the argument? It seems the argument about “health care” isn’t about caring for the poor–it’s about looking out for ourselves, and more often than not seems to be a voicing of a sense of “entitlement” that I never quite understood. We all seem to think that we are entitled to the best medical care that someone else’s money can buy. Somewhere along the way we feel called to the Gospel of Queen (“Who wants to live forever?” and not the Gospel of Christ.

    I have been spending a good bit of time thinking about our focus as Christians and while it should be outward rather than inward (caring for others and not ourselves–including the poor) I think we miss the point of the Gospel if caring for the poor is the focus. We are not to fear dying. We aren’t even to fear being sick. We will all die. As someone famous once wrote “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (And I don’t think he was referring to life insurance payouts.)

    Yes Christ healed the sick, and he brought one or two back from the dead. But with one exception (himself) even the dead went back to dead. Christ healed not simply to be “The Great Physician” but to demonstrate His power–that he was The Christ. The message seems to be lost often in the method.

    So yes, care for those around us. Yes, heal as best we can. Yes, work to alleviate the suffering. But stop focusing on helping us live “forever” in this life.

    Honestly–given a choice between the incorruptible new body and new life with Christ, and living forever in this one, the new one wins–hands down.