[June 20, 2007 @ 4:20 pm] David Hogberg

And that lesson is that health insurance is not the same as health care.

Hawaii has near universal health insurance thanks to government intervention. Indeed, that was a big reason the Commonwealth Fund ranked its health care system number among all fifty states.

But, as I explained in a recent column in the Washington Times, health insurance does not guarantee access to health care:

Many islanders can’t find a doctor, especially on the neighbor islands and in rural Oahu areas, despite the state’s top ranking nationally for access to health care, says the Hawaii Medical Association, a local physicians association.

A Commonwealth Fund survey said Hawaii has the best access to health care in the country, primarily because of a high number of residents with health insurance. But the study didn’t consider availability of doctors, Hawaii Medical Association members say.

“If we don’t have doctors available to see them, what good does insurance do you?” said HMA President Linda Rasmussen, a Kailua orthopedic surgeon. High malpractice premiums and low insurance reimbursements have created a “state of crisis” in Hawaii with physician shortages limiting access to health care, she said.

Hawaii residents may have the best health insurance coverage in the nation but that doesn’t mean they have access to doctors, says the Hawaii Medical Association.

“People have got insurance — great,” said HMA President Linda Rasmussen. “If we don’t have doctors available to see them, what good does insurance do you?”

Hat tip: FIRM

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