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Doctors hard to find for patients in Massachusetts' first for-profit health plan
Date:8/4/2010

n the Aug. 5 print edition of the journal. It was written by two resident physicians at the Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance and a Harvard Medical School faculty adviser, and is based on the work of a group of interns, residents and medical students from several Boston-area hospitals and medical schools.

These doctors-in-training carried out the research after they became worried when some of their sickest patients patients with cancer, diabetes and other severe health problems were forced from their existing insurance plan into the CeltiCare plan. They then were told that they could no longer be treated at many of their previous health clinics, forcing them to find new doctors.

The researchers identified doctors available to the CeltiCare patients using the plan's "Find a Provider" website. They called each of the doctors' offices within a 5-mile radius of their hospital, identifying themselves as relatives of a chronically ill, older adult who needed an appointment soon. If an appointment was offered, the researcher asked about the availability of translators.

"Trying to get an appointment was even more daunting than these numbers suggest," said Dr. Cassie Frank, a co-author of the article. "Many clinics forced me to call several times to get an appointment. One said they only open up appointments on Monday morning, and that to have a chance of getting any appointment slot I'd have to show up an hour before the clinic opened to be first in line."

Dr. Malgorzata Dawiskiba, another co-author, said: "The state suddenly shifted thousands of sick patients to a cut-rate plan. But instead of getting a bargain, the patients were left stranded insured, but unable to find a doctor who could care for them. These were people whom we knew. We and our supervisors had been their doctors, sometimes for many years, and overnight they were told 'you can't come here anymore.'"

Dr. Ruth Hertzman-Miller, an instructor at Harv
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Contact: Mark Almberg
mark@pnhp.org
312-782-6006
Physicians for a National Health Program
Source:Eurekalert

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