Obama Health Care Reform and Wait Times Visualization (In Lego!)
July 4, 2009
The next couple weeks are insane for me, but I’ve been sitting on this idea for some time and I figure its time to let it loose into the wild, spelling errors and all.
First, my sources.
- Wait time data – Merrit Hawkins and Associates 2009 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times
- Cost of Insurance Premiums – AHIP Center for Policy and Research Individual Health Insurance 2006-2007: A Comprehensive Survey of Premiums, Availability, and Benefits
Now for the caveats.
Wait times data are for routine checkups and does not count emergency care or diagnostic testing.
Phyllis Shlafly repeated the line that “The average wait is… the second trimester of pregnancy to see an obstetrician-gynecologist.” It looks like she is using the same documents that I’m using and if that is the case, that statements is absolutely false.
First of all, these wait times apply only to routine checkups (as stated above) and the OB/GYN checkups are “well woman” check-ups. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that a pregnant woman falls into that category.
Second, the average wait time in that category is 70 days, which is really only the second trimester if you count the “Wait a second, I’m pregnant!” realiziation time, which might be OK if she mentioned that to he readers.
Now for the insurance cost data. This was a statistic I struggled with for quite some time. The reason is because the latest comprehensive data available was collected at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007. This was so soon after the passage of the Massachusetts health care reform that it is very unlikely that it accurately reflects the results of that reform (which is something the study authors freely admit).
However, I’ve search high and low and cannot find any indication that the premiums have decreased at all. To the best of my knowledge, they have increased faster than the country average.
If this is true, then the average individual health insurance premium in Massachusetts is somewhere around $830 per month.
But I figured I might as well underestimate in order to flush out people who might complain, so I used the non-specific and drastically reduced number of $600+ per month.
Finally, the most important question:
How close to the Massachusetts health reform is the Obama health reform plan?
Because, honestly, if they weren’t anything like each other, there would be no point in comparing them, would there?
The sad fact of the matter is that the Massachusetts model provides the closest real life approximation to the Obama plan that there is available.
They both have a government agency for providing health care exchanges. They both require business over a certain size to provide insurance for their employees or face penalties. They both require individuals to purchase insurance or face tax penalties.
Like it or not, I think we can look to Massachusetts as a miniature crystal ball to provide a glimpse into the future of health care in the US if the Obama health care plan is passed.