Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Back to Opinion

NYT: Health Law Worsens Doc Shortage…Not (Oops)

Here’s an object lesson in the power of headlines to mislead: The lead headline in today’s Sunday New York Times, the paper’s most-read edition, warns: “Doctor Shortage Likely To Worsen With Health Law.” Sounds bad, right? Whatever you think of Obama and his Care, you can’t be happy if the reform results in fewer doctors providing the care we need.

Except that’s not what the story says. Once you’ve read a few paragraphs in, you realize that the problem is something quite different: We already have too few doctors doing primary care — because the current system pushes doctors into the better-paid specialties — and this shortage will be felt more intensely as the new system allows more people to seek the care they need.

The article goes on to explain the new law actually addresses the shortage, but not fast enough—it takes 10 years to train new doctors, and besides the fix in the new law isn’t strong enough. That is, the new law doesn’t create a doctor shortage — it fixes it, but not fast enough, and in the meantime the flaws in our current system will become more apparent. And, like the Bush economic disaster, it will appear to be Obama’s fault.

Put differently, our current system of rationing medical care, namely by income, will be removed, but — particularly in primary care — there’s nothing there to replace it. The result will be longer waits for some while the providers figure out how to implement the obvious replacement: rationing by need.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at help@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.