10 Questions: Eric Matteson, MD

By Nancy Walsh
MedPage Today, December 27, 2013

Eric L. Matteson, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, is the chair of rheumatology and professor of medicine.

1. What’s the biggest barrier to your practicing medicine today?

Without a doubt, it is lack of access for many patients, especially the un- and underinsured.

2. What is your most vivid memory involving a patient who could not afford to pay for healthcare (or meds, tests, etc.) and how did you respond?

I have a young woman with severe erosive RA who has limited mental ability who works 20 hours a week in a rural recycling center at a minimum wage job sorting recyclables. I see her in another state at a small clinic that’s 80 miles away. She has only Medicaid. She is able to afford methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine. We accept losses with the cost of monitoring, and also for the orthopedic surgeries she has required and she cannot afford. I have sought drug and assistance from every company with biologics on the market, some on more than one occasion, and to date have been turned down by all of them. She is not able to even afford gas, or the time off, to come to our center to participate in drug studies.

4. If you could change or eliminate something about the healthcare system, what would it be?

I would have a tax-supported universal healthcare for at least minimum services.


Mayo Clinic’s Eric Matteson is yet another prominent physician who supports “tax-supported universal healthcare,” though he qualifies that with “for at least minimum services.” From his example, it seems that he would include most of his field of rheumatology as “minimal services,” though others might say “all essential services.” Nevertheless, there continues to be an increase in those who now are willing to speak out on the need for a publicly-financed health care system that covers everyone. There is a growing consensus that financial barriers to care need to be removed.