Demand for access to rise in Massachusetts (More from Executive Profile, Dec. 2007)

December 1, 2007

Increased insurance coverage should boost demand for medical services which would highlight concerns about access to medical care, particularly outside of Boston.

Increased insurance coverage should boost demand for medical services which would highlight concerns about access to medical care, particularly outside of Boston.

"Rural areas tend to have a higher percentage of poor and uninsured and fewer doctors. Insurance alone may not assure access," according to B. Dale Magee, MD, MS, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

A shortage of primary care physicians in Massachusetts has led many doctors to stop accepting new patients, according to a recent report by the Massachusetts Medical Society. "Primary care physicians should be central to the delivery of healthcare," Dr. Magee says. "Absent a primary care physician, patients tend to distribute their care among specialists, which can lead to more testing and less continuity and drive up expenses. Distribution of physicians-both within the state and the country-is part of the issue and we need to be cognizant of the fact that physicians have choices in where they can live. Incentives to practice in underserved areas need to be more effective. Some specialties, such as primary care, should be compensated in a manner that recognizes their importance. In that end, the financial consequences of a primary care shortage may cost more than appropriate compensation."