The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer recently ran three stories about some of the health care challenges that President-elect Obama and Congress are facing.
In part one, correspondent Betty Ann Bowser looks at people who are underinsured in Nashville, Tenn. She found a 40 percent increase in patients who have canceled appointments with a cardiology practice, many of whom are insured. She reports that people who are underinsured are delaying care, putting off tests and treatments, skipping doses of prescription medications or just not filling the prescriptions.
In part two, Bowser reports from Massachusetts on the shortage of primary care doctors. Among the reasons medical student cite for looking at other specialties: lower pay for primary care doctors makes it hard to pay off large student loans, primary care doctors are overworked and having to spend time dealing with insurance issues.
In the last part of the series, Bowser goes to Kansas to report on small businesses and the difficulties they face in providing health insurance to workers. Climbing costs have led many workers to look elsewhere for insurance, leaving the pool of workers in plans with very few young, healthy people. Businesses are finding they have to offer less coverage at a higher cost.