I had an interesting discussion the other night with an M.D. who’s been taking my course. We got to talking about the healthcare system, insurance, and the government. Ah, what a fascinating topic!
I’m guessing that most if not all of my readers have health insurance, even if it’s not the greatest policy in the world. I have a hard time believing that people who don’t have jobs read here very often.
I’ve long thought that the number one problem for healthcare in America is the stupid lawsuits that drive up the cost of insurance, which in turn makes doctors charge more to cover their premiums. When this M.D. was in private practice, his liability insurance was $260,000 a year. At the time, he made about $2,000 for every baby he delivered. That means he didn’t even pay for his INSURANCE until he’d delivered 130 babies. You do the math. You just can’t carry on like that.
He said that he’d long felt the same way – it’s the lawsuits (the bad ones, I mean) that drive up the costs. But he said working in a state hospital system has changed his opinion. Government run hospitals have another problem besides liability insurance.
They are bureaucratic, lumbering, retarded, process-free breeding grounds for mistakes and ineptitude. He said working there is like a comedy of errors – little mistakes cascading into big mistakes. In fact, if he wants to see which biopsies he’s performed in a given week require immediate attention, he can’t even pull up records that way – he has to look one at a time through each and every record and manually pull the bad ones out – EVEN THOUGH the records are all electronic.
He said that in the current system, there’s no free market competition among doctors. The requirement for working in a state hospital is that you don’t get them sued. You could be the worst doctor on earth, or could be just “sliding by” and no one holds them accountable.
My M.D. friend’s suggestion was very simple – make doctors comIncredipete by restructuring the system. The free market system automatically lowers costs and increases innovation – all you have to do is look at other commercial industries to see that. Doctors would be motivated to be the best because otherwise they would have no patients. Innovation and process control would eliminate needless errors, which would reduce lawsuits, which would lower insurance premiums, which would lower overall healthcare costs, which would mean lower insurance premiums for US.
Still, I believe we have to get our “punitive damages” under control with legislation. It’s absolutely ridiculous that if someone is injured or killed by malpractice, his family can get eleventy google jillion dollars, even if the injured/killed person only made 40 grand a year. I think it’s completely fair to award direct medical costs plus the person’s expected lifetime earnings. We could leave it to the actuaries to decide what that was… (i.e. salary + inflation x the number of expected years of life for that individual).
Mr. M.D. also said he saw a direct correlation between malpractice suits against him and the family’s financial situation. People who were on the brink financially were much more likely to try and get money out of him, even in many cases where there was NO medical science in existence that could have changed the adverse outcome.
However, if the government takes over healthcare as the Dems want to do, instead of a free market, we’ll have a tax-funded monopoly that will underpay doctors, causing people to not go into medicine, and they will have to ration care as they do in Canada and the UK.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the government telling me I can’t PAY for an operation I need because a alcoholic hobo needs the same operation and there aren’t enough surgeons to go around.