Why are so many doctors against universal healthcare?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Liberals have asked me, “But you’re a doctor, why wouldn’t you want healthcare to be provided to everybody?” This is the reason:

If the government cannot provide comprehensive and efficient healthcare on a smaller scale i.e. Medicare or Medicaid, how can it provide sufficiently for every American? Take a look at government healthcare so far. Medicare is a broken system. It was bankrupt by 1972. Since then physicians who accept Medicare have had to face ever-worsening financial garnishment on reimbursements forcing many doctors to stop treating Medicare patients altogether.

Primarily, elderly patients are seeing restrictions on the amount of care they can receive and with the aging of the baby boomers, demand will increase and this is only going to get worse. Furthermore, the overwhelming financial expense of universal healthcare will eventually result in the some type of healthcare rationing. How is this possible? President Obama has already been laying down the framework for the Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) council. This means that all your care is analyzed in a computer database to compare cost effectiveness against other types of care (I doubt my patients would like their medical history to be part of this national experiment). If at any point the computer says your care is too costly, the treatment options available to you will likely be diminished. You may even incur penalties if you engage in any sort of “risky” behavior such as overeating or riding a motorcycle.

The CER also involves bureaucrats influencing doctor’s decisions by initiating a process that can result in non-reimbursement for care. When this happens, and reimbursement doesn’t match the effort or quality care that a doctor gives, there is little incentive to provide better quality care. Obama warned that “physicians will have to tighten their belts”. If you want to know what that looks like, just ask the U.K. They drove many of their doctors, especially their dentists, to other countries where they could get reasonable reimbursement for their time and education. When doctors leave and fewer students go to medical school, the country is left with a provider shortage. This reduces timely, quality care and causes further rationing, which also drives up the cost of getting drugs (especially expensive ones like those for cancer). This has already been seen in other countries. Here is a couple examples of what the UK and Canada have to say about their socialized medicine. Click here for hundreds of examples.

The babies born in hospital corridors: Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets
Hope and Mcdermott, August 26, 2009 [Daily Express (UK)]

Couples Face an IVF Postcode Lottery
- Katherine Fenech, August 6, 2009 [Daily Express (UK)]

Kidney cancer patients denied life-saving drugs by NHS rationing body NICE
- April 29, 2009 [Daily Mail (UK)]

Girl, 3, has heart operation cancelled three times because of bed shortage
- David Rose, April 23, 2009 [Times Online]

Surgery postponed indefinitely for 1,000 Kelowna patients
- Cathryn Atkinson, April 8, 2008 [Globe and Mail]

Majority of Que. dentists quit health-care system
- March 27, 2008 [CTV.ca]

Wait times for surgery, medical treatments at all-time high: report
- October 15, 2007 [CBC News (Canada)]


"From the people who brought you the IRS and the DMV..." no, I do not want the government running healthcare. There are already systems in place to cover the poorest who cannot afford medical treatment. There is absolutely no good reason to include others in this debacle.

Anonymous said...

How are physicians voicing their concerns about universal health care. I think doctors who disagree with the reform have an obligation to advocate for the patients they serve. Physicians have a better chance at being heard and really need to stand up and broadcast to the American public what to realistically expect as a patient if universalized medicine is implemented. I have been a nurse for many years and I see the writing on the wall. If physicians and nurses threaten to leave the field in groves maybe someone will take us seriously.

Anonymous said...

In 1990 the government closed down the Bunny Ranch in Nevada for unpaid taxes. Then by law the government took over the business and tried to run it, but they failed.
Do I want a government who couldn't even make money selling whores and whiskey to drunk horney men to take over my health care.......Heck NO !!

Anonymous said...

yes, that's just it..the poor, new immigrants (legal and illegal) can get health care. Who doesn't get it? The middle class that have been here for generations, particularly when something catastrophic happens, like a brain tumor. My sister had a BC/BS policy but left her holding the bag for 10's of thousands. We need health care reform now...if you believe govt is bad then that's what you're going to get -crappy govt.

cura te ipsum said...

I agree that healthcare reform is needed, but HR3200 is NOT it. I will vote for change if Congress can come up with something that won't destroy the most successful parts of our system in a massive overhaul. HR 3200 will hurt small businesses, hospitals, doctors, patients. There is no reason to eliminate what works well in our system to cover a relatively small percentage of Americans with health insurance. There are other ways to get these people covered.

Anonymous said...

I believe they will use computer database to compare costs. My proof is the U.S. Postal service who use computer database to try and harras and intimidate letter carriers on how long it takes them to do their route. So bureaucrats are already using this system.

Anonymous said...

wHAT NO TORT REFORM ? WHY? this POTUS wants Everyone to Have Insurance - HA ! Socialismn ? Communist ? let's take over People's lifes, This is not For the People - this fis for the People he wants to make $$ Why is it the Communist Party think it's Great ? And the unions ,SEIU to gain million s of Card carrying Workers...Follow the Money and you'll gain insight ,Why isn't TORT REFORM BEING AGGRESSIVE ATTACKED they are Trial Lawyer's and they are 80% Democrat and Support Democrats....this IS SO NOT ABOUT WHAT IS RIGHT FOR AMERICA- THIS IS ABOUT WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THE PEOPLE THAT BOUGHT THE ELECTION...CAPT. EVIL-Soros & his Minions want to Take Away Freedom,Capitalism and Choice...

Anonymous said...

Unless personal responsibility is restored, which it won't with government run healthcare, nothing will change. Things will only get worse. When I was with GTE (left in 1996 after 25 yrs.), early on, we had no idea what our health care cost. Admittedly, I went to the doctor for some really trivial matters. One day,my employer introduced a brilliant plan, along with many other multi-national corporations. It was called "choices". They gave us X no. of dollars to buy our insurance depending on the size of our family and for the first time, we were made aware of cost. E.G., one year, I elected $1000 deductible, which gave me more take home pay. That year we rationed our healthcare considerably. Why? Because we aware of raw cost, and we could see how our healthcare decisions were impacting our wallets.

Pericles said...

You should consider joining with other like minded doctors such as http://www.afcm.org or http://www.westandfirm.org/blog/index.html.

I have personally written all my members of Congress and stood on the capitol mall on 9/12 to protest. I also donated to AFCM and support their speakers. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

What would happen if doctors told their democratic congressmen that they will relocate their practices outside of their districts if the new healthcare bill passes. They physician might not be able to stop being a physician, but if patients find that their choice of doctors is limited they might put pressure on their congressmen and it makes the other geography that much more attractive to people looking on a place to settle... just an idea... not the most practical for some districts....but probably better than threatening to leave medicine when the school bills are so high

Anonymous said...

One thing people need to do is distinguish between govt.-run health care and govt.-run health insurance. Most single-payer advocacy groups want health care to remain privately-run but have the system for paying for it centralized and monopolized (or, if you will, socialized...like our military) by a single non-profit entity. All of the problems that you discuss (e.g. bureaucrats influenicing doctors' decisions) are CURRENT problems inflicted on premium payers not by govt. but by corporations whose ultimate goal is not the health and welfare of their clients (remember: 160,000,000 insured Americans don't have a choice...this is the number of people the CBO estimates to have their insurance provided for them by their employer).

One thing people need to do is understand is that government-run "insurance" IS what we are referring to as government-run healthcare.

An insurance company figures out how much total money needs to be spent on healthcare for all of their insured, averages it out per person and collects a little bit more for overhead and profit. (Remember, most companies--for example, Taco Bell--keep a higher percentage of their collected income as profit than insurance companies do.) To make it fair, some adjustments are also made if a person wants better coverage, or hasn't been paying into the system as long.

Government health programs (such as Medicare and any "single payer" plan/option/however they decide to spin it) are NOT "insurance" because they don't follow the rules. They cover more people and require them to pay less. The problem with that is they don't collect enough money to cover all the healthcare expenses of the people they are supposed to cover so the program has to:

1) Cut and/or ration healthcare coverage to the participants,
2) "Borrow" money from the general fund (meaning, borrowing money from China), and
3) Pay doctors and hospitals less (making them go out of business and/or leave the profession causing doctor shortages and low quality care).

Now I whole-heartedly agree that our current system of healthcare through HMOs, etc. is not the best way. If you go back and read some early posts on this blog you will see that I think too much money is wasted on insurance company bureaucracy and they sometimes disingenuously ration healthcare. But if you think a government program will solve these problems, you are woefully uninformed! Do you pour gasoline on a fire to put it out?

Government programs have a MUCH MUCH worse bureaucracy problem than any private company. That means more money will be spent paying paperpushers processing documents than for healthcare. That in itself is reason to keep government out of healthcare. But there are several more reasons why a mis-named "government insurance" program would be a disaster.

-- Because the program will never be able to collect as much money as it spends, it will function as a giant ponzi scheme, struggling to cut costs and raise funds as it plunges further and further in the red. This will mean cut doctor and hospital reimbursements (which will create doctor and hospital bed shortages), increased denials (we have already seen preparations for this with the "death panels" and mammogram denials that are in the works), increased taxes on an economy already in depression, more borrowing from the Chinese (further devaluing our currency and strengthening their brutal, totalitarian regime).

--Because the healthcare system will be a "command" system rather than a "free-market" system, there will be little incentive to develop new treatments, drugs and technology. The quality of healthcare will greatly decline.

--The government will have nationalized another huge chunk of our economy: first banks, than car manufactures, now all doctors, hospitals, nurses, insurance companies, etc. That is how Russia got to where they are today. America got to where we are today by free enterprise, ie. privately owned businesses that have to compete for their business, driving quality up and cost down.

--Because America currently has the best healthcare in the world. It has for a while. Most of the new technologies, treatments and drugs come out of America, NOT countries with socialized medicine programs such as Canada, England, France. Those systems are currently failing with massive debets and rationing of care--just like our current government healthcare programs are.

So why would we copy them? America hs become the most powerful nation in the world with the greatest standard of living by following a formula of free-market principles. Why would we go completely against them in this case? We don't need a socialist program here. We need to let the free-market develop cheaper methods of delivering healthcare to all.

Anonymous said...

I think all of the doctors who disagree with this so called health care restructuring which is really socialism brought to reality should stage a protest by going on strike and not seeing patients for as long as it takes until the American people are in the streets en masse. It won't take folks long to get in the mood to assemble and make the tea parties look like small potatoes. Then maybe the libs will start to pay attention. It is going to take a huge shout around the entire country before it starts to make a difference and this is the only thing i can think of that will be able to garner the attention needed. Please let's elect real statesmen for these important positions instead of the egomaniacs that have spent a lifetime getting wealthy and corrupting the system.(all Lawyers..duh..go figure!) We should all work to bring down the corrupt press as well.

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