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Crisis of care on the front line of health

New York Times, September 30, 2008

Finding doctors who know their patients well and who deliver informed medical care with efficiency and empathy has become quite a challenge: Primary care doctors spend far more time talking to patients and helping them avert health crises or cope with ailments that are chronic and incurable than they spend performing tests and procedures. According to this article in the New York Times, the problem is that in this era of managed care and reimbursements dictated by Medicare and other insurers, doctors don't get much compensation for talking to patients. Instead, they get paid primarily for procedures, from blood tests to surgery, and for the number of patients they see, the article contends.