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Justinian Lane

Where do Doctors go? Where the money is.

Check this out:

Doctors have been flocking to the area and surrounding Westchester County since the 1970s, drawn in part by an upper-class clientele who demand top-notch medical care and have the means to pay for it. The county has one of the highest median household incomes in the nation (about $77,000 a year in 2007), and the figures soar above six digits in suburbs like Scarsdale and Chappaqua, which former President Bill Clinton calls home.

Nearly 3,000 miles away, scaring up a doctor in Bakersfield, situated in California's economically battered Central Valley, is a lot harder. In fact, White Plains has more than twice the number of doctors per capita as Bakersfield, where needy patients until recently had to take a 2-hour bus trip to Fresno to see a diabetes treatment specialist.

Two decades worth of U.S. healthcare data analyzed by Dartmouth Medical School at Reuters' request shows that such regional disparities are increasingly creating a nation of health-care haves and have nots.

The research also suggests that the chasm between places like White Plains and Bakersfield is likely to grow -- a point underscored by dozens of interviews with doctors and experts. That's because physicians, the data shows, gravitate toward affluent locales in the United States that already have all the medical help they need.

Source: SPECIAL REPORT - Are Doctors What Ails U.S. Healthcare? - NYTimes.com

Now, California has damage caps on medical malpractice caps, and New York does not.  Ceteris Paribus, any city in California should have more doctors per capita than any city in New York.  But we don’t live in a world of Ceteris Paribus.  Ask a doctor if they’d rather practice in White Plains, where everyone has health insurance and the doctor risks being sued, or if they’d rather practice in the California central valley (or any other poor, uninsured area) and be completely immune to malpractice lawsuits.  Most doctors are going to pick White Plains because money matters.

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Posted at 10:41 AM, Nov 20, 2009 in Medical Malpractice
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