Nov

20

 Medical care is, of course, a right, and one that should be protected by the federal government.  Instead, federal and state governments actively restrict the right to offer medical care.  The expensive, complex, cumbersome, ridiculous health care bill in Congress would only make matters worse by increasing demand and doing nothing to free supply.

A Forbes column by Daniel Fisher (Medical Emergency) discusses the restrictive policies engineered by medical schools, mandatory residency programs, federal subsidies and hospitals. (Paul Starr's fascinating history "The Transformation of American Medicine" tells the bigger story of government intervention in medical care.)

Economic freedom for medical care would simply mean removing government force from the supply side of the equation.  Investors would be able to develop and staff new hospitals and medical schools, foreign doctors and nurses would be able to apply to enter the U.S. to gain certification to practice medicine.  Insurance companies would be free to reimburse medical care provided by new or expanded hospitals and clinics.

Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and other firms would be free to expand medical services offered in their stores, hire new doctors and nurses, and even develop their own online and in-service medical training programs.  Insurance companies could choose not to reimburse care from new providers if they believe such care to be substandard.

The Forbes article notes especially the coming shortage of primary care doctors, estimating that the shortage would reach 40,000 in ten years even without expanded "free" medical services if pending "health care" legislation passes.  With medical schools and residency slots locked down by special interests with state power, supply cannot rise to meet demand.

How many competent nurses, after five or ten years on the job gaining experience and expertise, might choose to take on training to become primary care physicians?  We won't know until such economic freedom became available to nurses.  Insurance company executives often insist on extensive physicals before writing million-dollar insurance policies.  And they often insist the physicals be done by nurses rather than doctors, who as a rule take more time.

How much should a primary care doctor earn?  Before government intervention in medical care, they earned about what other professionals earned.  If government officials and the American public were to somehow be roused from their ignorance of the history and economics of medical care, and insist that freedom of contract be again protected, tens of thousands of competent primary care physicians would soon emerge from new training programs and medical schools to offer quality medical care for Americans of all income levels.  People would likely pay modest fees for service in cash or with credit cards, using medical insurance only for catastrophic medical problems.  Mutual aid societies like the local Eagles, Masons, Moose, and Sons of Italy, might again hire "lodge doctors" to provide medical care to members.  More likely thousands of the nations health clubs might offer a range of "health care" services to members with part-time staff doctors and nurses.

Specialty hospitals operating on broken bones and joint replacements would not also treat people with infections.  Medical costs from accidental infections would drop dramatically. (See another Forbes article, Bad Medicine, for this regulatory disaster story.

Competent primary care doctors carry a vast amount of diagnostic information and experience in their heads.  Alternatively, medical care providers could have a more modest degree of information and experience in their head, but know how to quickly search vast computer databases and diagnostic software for cutting edge information. Imagine a world where all our diagnostic and repair services for cars, airplanes, and other machinery relied upon what mechanics could remember learning about or had fixed before.

Editors note: we find this PajamasMedia article highly relevant.

Jeff Watson points out:

ShrinersOne place that provides medical care for children is the network of 22 Shriners Hospitals in the United States. Run by the Shriners, an organization of Free and Accepted Masons, this network provides free medical services for children without any financial obligation or insurance requirements from the families. Entirely supported through donations, Masons raise around five million dollars a day to fund the network of Shriners Hospitals. The quality of these hospitals is first rate, and the facilities are state of the art. Many Shriners Hospitals offer training and residency programs for MDs. All Shriners Hospitals are committed to the uplifting and complete care of sick children in a family-friendly environment. The burn units are among the best in the country. Donations to the Shriners Hospitals are tax free, and much needed as current conditions and increased expenses might require the closing of six hospitals. The Shriners are desperate to keep the endangered facilities open and provide critical care for the communities they serve.


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