As more and more doctors become hospital employees it seems only inevitable that they will eventually unionize. Let’s give a quick background. Insurers take over healthcare. Physicians are unable to stand up to them. Docs then get wooed by the hospitals to marry them in order to fight back (the enemy of my enemy is my friend). Docs become the bitches of the hospital administrators. The ACA is passed and the rest of the private doctors get employed. Lastly, in frustration, they unionize which only drives up healthcare even more, kind of like how Detroit priced itself out of competition with the rest of the automobile industry. Most of this is described in a WSJ editorial by David Leffell. Here are some highlights:
- As the effects of the Affordable Care Act come into focus, it becomes clear that when the majority of physicians are no longer self-employed—and barring any legislation to the contrary—their new employed status will provide doctors with the right to collective bargaining.
- Leaders of the organized-labor movement already view service workers with nonexportable jobs as the last best hope of labor unions whose membership is at an all-time low. The truth is that physicians are now becoming service workers. They are well-educated and expensive to train, and their decisions have substantial significance in the lives of others. But doctors essentially provide a service, one that cannot be outsourced to India or China.
- For now, it’s enough to contemplate what will occur when the practice of medicine becomes detached from its past as a profession—when doctors may in time come to see themselves not solely as healers but as workers, units of labor, in a system that is committed to delivering care to the greatest number.
- When doctors occupy a service niche like the chambermaid in Las Vegas or the school teacher in Chicago, the expectations and compensation of the physician-worker will be defined in ways that may make the benefits of collective bargaining appear very attractive.
- As has happened in other countries that have charted the course we are now on, a new reason for lack of access may at times be: “Office closed, doctors on strike.”
I hate to say it but I definitely see this coming. How sad for a once proud profession to become “units of labor”?