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The Dose

Welcome to The Dose, which tackles the business and economics inside the turbulent world of health care and life sciences in Indiana. Your host is John Russell. To contact me call 317-472-5383.

We have doctors in Indiana. But do we visit them?

May 13, 2016

You think Indiana has a shortage of doctors?

Well, we do, especially in rural areas, and heaps of doctors and public health officials have made that very point.

But even so, plenty of Hoosiers say they have a regular doctor.

How many? Put it this way: only 14.8 percent of people in Indiana say they don’t have a go-to place for medical care, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s a better figure than in 32 other states.

The report looked at the percentage of adults aged 18-64 without a “usual place of medical care” in 2014. Translation: You’re not sure where to go for treatment for the flu, sore throat, sprained ankle or mysterious stomach pains. No doctor will claim you.

The national range was pretty astounding. At the low end, only 2.8 percent in Vermont residents said they don’t have a regular place for medical care. On the other end, a whopping 27 percent of people in Nevada didn’t have such a place.

The national average was 17.3 percent.

Here are five best states for people having a regular doc—or rather, for people without a regular doc:
•    Vermont: 2.8 percent
•    Delaware: 6.8 percent
•    Massachusetts: 7.5 percent
•    Wisconsin: 9.5 percent
•    Hawaii: 10 percent

And the worst five:
•    Nevada: 26.7 percent
•    Idaho: 26.6 percent
•    Texas: 25.4 percent
•    Kentucky: 23.7 percent
•    Wyoming: 23.6 percent

So that’s all well and good for Indiana, right? We’re better than about two-thirds of the states, and better than the national average.

Well, not so fast. The 18th best out of 50 is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you have a doctor to write a prescription for an allergy medicine.

But that’s only half the picture.

The same CDC study looked at the number of adults who actually went to the doctor. And that’s when Indiana dropped in the rankings.

According to the data table, a whopping 35.6 percent of Hoosiers aged 18 to 64 didn’t visit a general practitioner in 2014.

That’s right: more than one-third of people in Indiana didn’t see a general practitioner during the entire calendar year.

And that dropped Indiana all the way down to 27th place.

So the moral here: It’s one thing to have a doctor. It’s another thing to go see that doctor. Because that’s where health and wellness really kick in.

OK, so let’s look at the best and worst for states where people actually go see a doctor, instead of just thinking about it.

Here are the best five:
•    Vermont: 15.9 percent
•    Delaware: 18.4 percent
•    Virginia: 23.9 percent
•    Pennsylvania: 26.4 percent
•    Michigan: 27.2 percent

And the worst five:
•    Montana: 48.1 percent
•    South Dakota: 47.7 percent
•    Alaska: 45.8 percent
•    Nevada: 43.7 percent
•    New Mexico: 41.7 percent

That’s enough tough talk for one day. So make the CDC happy. Eat your leafy greens. And go visit your doctor.

 

 

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