American healthcare reform debates are focused on strategies to provide “access” to medical services for all. Lack of insurance (or under-insurance) seems to be the primary focus, as it is falsely assumed that coverage provides access. Unfortunately, the situation is far more complicated.
Once a person has health insurance, there is no guarantee that they will receive the medical services that they need. Not because their plan is insufficiently robust, but because the roadblocks for approval of services (provided in the plans) are so onerous that those providing the service often give up before they receive insurance authorization. In my experience, whether or not the patient gets the service, test or procedure that they require often depends on the individual will and determination of their physician. And that’s something we need to talk about.