While I am a vociferous opponent of socialized medicine or even some of the mandated-coverage plans floated by the left-ish folks in society, you’ll not find me defending our current healthcare system in America. Why? Because it’s “our healthcare system”, and not anything approaching a free market.
Through coverage mandates, Medicare, restrictions, licensing, employer-sponsored healthcare (an outgrowth of tax-advantaged treatment for companies), tort law, and mountains of paperwork, we’ve turned healthcare in America into a nuisance. Should we surprised, then, when our doctors have grown tired of playing the game?
Primary care doctors in the United States feel overworked and nearly half plan to either cut back on how many patients they see or quit medicine entirely, according to a survey released on Tuesday.
And 60 percent of 12,000 general practice physicians found they would not recommend medicine as a career.
“The whole thing has spun out of control. I plan to retire early even though I still love seeing patients. The process has just become too burdensome,” the Physicians’ Foundation, which conducted the survey, quoted one of the doctors as saying.
Eleven percent said they plan to retire and 13 percent said they plan to seek a job that removes them from active patient care. Twenty percent said they will cut back on patients seen and 10 percent plan to move to part-time work.
Current government proposals promise to “rein in costs” but I wonder how they intend to both rein in costs and keep supply from dropping.
The only happy doctors I know of are ones who have decided to work on a cash basis, and do not take insurance. Of course, they don’t stop their customers from claiming the visits to their own insurance, but they don’t take care of all the paperwork in the office. In the pediatric practice we take my son to, the head doctor (who is somewhat famous having written several books) follows this plan. Sadly, too few doctors have this opportunity, as most Americans either don’t have the time and energy to deal with the insurance companies themselves, or don’t have the funds to carry the cost while they wait. For my son, we visit one of the other doctors in the practice because we don’t have the time or knowledge to traverse the insurance world.
Regardless of what sort of healthcare system we have in America (even if we returned to a free market), Americans will have to understand that health care is not a free lunch. What we may have now may be (like many things in America) the worst of both worlds — all the downsides of socialism without any of the efficiencies of capitalism. In such a minefield of cross purposes and inefficiencies, it’s not surprising that many providers are willing to walk away.
With the potential socialization of health care in an Obama administration, we may soon find ourselves in the same situation as Britain — importing our doctors from overseas because it becomes a job “Americans won’t do”.