As more and more doctors shun Medicare and Medicaid, and threaten not to participate in ObamaCare, politicians talk of tying acceptance of these patients to the doctors’ license to practice at all. For example, Kathleen Murphy, a Democrat running for the Virginia House of Delegates told a forum in Great Falls that she believes there should be a law forcing doctors to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.
In that case, doctors could still flee Virginia or just quit. Medical student Ben Gallagher, writing in The Atlantic, goes much further. He advocates “systemic change to breed the doctors we need”—as if doctors were race horses.
Despite significant investments in medical education, the U.S. government asks very little of doctors, he opines. They are allowed to choose what specialty to practice, where to work, and how much to work. “If more students knew their government was making an expensive investment in them, they might strive to become the kind of doctors their country needs.” But since students are only human, government should consider policies to force more doctors to go into primary care, work in underserved communities, and work full-time. “These measures may sound punitive, but they are exactly what…Americans who can’t find a doctor need.”
In other words, doctors “didn’t build that.” They didn’t invest the years of rigorous work and study; rather, the government invested in them and has a right to a return on the investment that it owns. Medical education is a thus privilege paid for with lifelong obedience and servitude.
That conclusion follows from the assertion that healthcare is a right. Whenever someone tells me he has a “right” to health care, I ask, “From whom? From me?” This question exposes the claim to this “right” for the robbery and slavery that it is.
Years ago, I stopped doing cardiac anesthesia, as more than half of the patients were “covered” by Medicare, and payment to me for my services was well below what I thought acceptable ($285 for my last 6-hour cardiac anesthetic). Soon thereafter I stopped my dealings with Medicare (and Medicaid) altogether as I increasingly saw myself as the recipient of money taken from my neighbors against their will. I treated Medicare patients at no charge whatsoever. Interestingly, the angriest patients I’ve ever encountered were these recipients of my charitable care. I have never encountered such rage since.
About two weeks after I quit accepting Medicare, an angry cardiac surgeon, inconvenienced by my departure from the group of available cardiac anesthesiologists, told me that he was going to see to it that I was forced to do these anesthetics, so as not to disrupt his schedule. I guess he thought he had a “right” to my services.
I told the surgeon I’d be happy to visit with the family before their loved one’s elective surgery and inform them that I want no part of this, but someone is making me do it. Perhaps they would prefer to wait for an anesthesiologist who was doing the work willingly. The surgeon got it.
Now imagine angry mobs of folks waving their ObamaCare “insurance” cards, demanding their free healthcare outside a closed and vacant doctor’s office. The government cannot change human nature. If government points its guns at the doctors to make them participate, the “healthcare” that is delivered under these conditions will be different from what the mobs expected. In fact, it won’t be medical care at all.
You don’t want to trust your life to someone who has a gun pointed at him. Perhaps the fear of the care rendered by coerced doctors will inspire a new “wellness.” Staying as far away as you possibly can from such doctors may be the most self-preserving move you can make in the near future.
The safety net will be doctors who boldly step outside the dystopic statist model and work for patients directly.
The shortage in the supply of physicians relative to increasing demand will represent an opportunity for those waiting in long lines to re-think what it is, exactly, that they have a “right” to.
About the author: Dr. G. Keith Smith is a board certified anesthesiologist in private practice since 1990. In 1997, he co-founded The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, an outpatient surgery center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, owned by 40 of the top physicians and surgeons in central Oklahoma. Dr. Smith serves as the medical director, CEO and managing partner while maintaining an active anesthesia practice.
In 2009, Dr. Smith launched a website displaying all-inclusive pricing for various surgical procedures, a move that has gained him and the facility, national and even international attention. Many Canadians and uninsured Americans have been treated at his facility, taking advantage of the low and transparent pricing available.
Operation of this free market medical practice, arguably the only one of its kind in the U.S., has gained the endorsement of policymakers and legislators nationally. More and more self-funded insurance plans are taking advantage of Dr. Smith’s pricing model, resulting in significant savings to their employee health plans. His hope is for as many facilities as possible to adopt a transparent pricing model, a move he believes will lower costs for all and improve quality of care. Dr. Smith resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.