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Reform Will Mean Long Wait Times! Oh, Wait...

The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly has a nice story today about how the health care crisis is playing out in North Carolina. The state now has the nation's highest rate of unisurance: 22.5 percent of the state's residents have no insurance. And, predictably, it's not just the poor who don't have coverage. It's the more affluent, too:

"I used to be upper middle class," said Amy ... "I've paid my taxes for 30 years."

Last fall, when she moved here from Florida to care for her parents, she got trapped in the economic tailspin. The former resort manager who bought jewelry in tony Palm Beach now does temp work and sits in the clinic's crowded waiting room with dozens of others who cannot afford insurance.

"I haven't told anyone I'm coming here," she said, asking that her last name be withheld because she is embarrassed to be seeking discounted medical care.

That story came from the HealthServe community clinic in Greensboro. And the medical director, Dr. David Talbott, says he can tell the problem is getting worse by the spike in demand for his clinic's services:

Just six months ago, the clinic delivered same-day care to most callers, the gold standard from a health perspective. But in October the delays crept to four days, then 19 in November and 25 in December. In January, HealthServe temporarily stopped accepting new patients, and almost immediately 380 people put their names on a waiting list for when the crunch eases.

What's that? Waiting time for medical care in the U.S.? That only happens when you have "socialized medicine" like they do in Europe!

The truth, of course, is that Americans wait for medical services all the time. That's particularly true if they are uninsured, as more and more Americans are becoming.

Update: In the comments section, blogger and regular Treatment reader "DrSteveB" provides some good background reading on federal community clinics.

--Jonathan Cohn