Let’s say that you just had an auto accident. Admittedly NOT a pleasant thought around the holidays, but play along with me for a moment.
Perhaps you skidded into a tree, or maybe it was a hit-&-run. You’re not hurt, but your car is decidedly worse-off for the experience. Now, there’s a particular auto body shop which you trust implicitly, and you want them to repair your car.
With me so far?
Here’s the rub: your insurance company informs you that this body shop’s rates are far in excess of the market average in your area, and you’ll need to either (A) pay the difference between what the insurance company has agreed to cover and what the body shop is charging, or (B) find another body shop.
This isn’t an unusual scenario: in my career, I easily saw it hundreds of times. One option that I NEVER saw, however, was the government considering a mandate which FORCED a body shop owner to fix my car at the insurance company’s rate.
I never saw it because it would be ridiculous, and would make a mockery of a free market and private business. Who’d ever want to start a body shop, knowing that the State could essentially order you to work against your will, for a price that you felt was too low? Some folks, maybe, but certainly not the truly talented ones.
Those shop owners, when faced with such a tyrannical option, would themselves opt out and find a different profession altogether. Count on it.
Welcome to Obamacare, everyone:
It’s no secret that Medicare/Medicaid pay only a fraction of what most doctors charge. But for the gazillionth time, products and services don’t COST less, just because the government opts to PAY less for them (hello, Nixon price controls!!). In the past, this disparity has always meant that doctors had to “make up” the difference on their other clients. Which kinda/sorta worked, …up ’til now.
From National Review Online:
“…Depending on which study you want to believe, somewhere between one-third and one-half of primary-care physicians already are restricting the number of new Medicare patients they will see.
Many are dropping out of the program entirely.
After losing hundreds of millions of dollars treating Medicare patients, the Mayo Clinic’s general-care facility in Glendale, Ariz., stopped taking new Medicare patients in 2009. In Texas, doctors are in open revolt against Medicare, with hundreds dumping the program completely over the past few years.
Obamacare promises to make this worse by proposing to further reduce physicians’ fees at the same time it is proposing to raise them. The Obamacare price-fixing authority, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, is explicitly charged with reducing Medicare spending, but it is also legally forbidden to do so by reducing benefits, which leaves physicians’ compensation as pretty much the only meaningful source of cuts.
So, while higher demand + limited supply = higher prices,
…higher demand + limited supply + price controls = shortages…”
That last sentence is an incontrovertible fact of economics, and we may rely on shortages being an inevitable result of this strategy. Unless …one of two things occurs:
- the Federal Government turns doctors, in essence, into conscripted servants, or
- we redefine what a “doctor” IS under Obamacare.
We covered this second option earlier in the year, when California was considering expanding the definition of what constitutes a “Health Care Provider”:
“…As the state moves to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Californians under President Obama‘s healthcare law, it faces a major obstacle: There aren’t enough doctors to treat a crush of newly insured patients.
They are working on proposals that would allow physician assistants to treat more patients and nurse practitioners to set up independent practices. Pharmacists and optometrists could act as primary care providers, diagnosing and managing some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure…”
In other words: if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor… except that your doctor won’t necessarily be what you’ve always understood to be, you know, … an actual “doctor”.
This ever-expanding disaster is still just beginning. The nation is just realizing that they now face MUCH higher deductibles, a counter-intuitive health care marriage penalty, and greater overall costs for worse coverage.
All in all, we really shouldn’t be too surprised to be seeing all sorts of Obamacare “remedies”, for ills caused by Obamacare itself. Government possesses a pronounced track record in this regard, and it ain’t pretty.
And with that in mind, I’d say that forcing doctors to see patients they don’t want, for wages they don’t like, sounds just about right.