The first week of 2018, and I’m already weary of the same old misinformed, deceitful “journalist” claims about the medical profession and health care in general.
Writer Christian Barnard op-eds in the Washington Examiner that, “Thanks to doctors, there aren’t enough doctors.” While shaking his fist at the future, Barnard presents not a single new fact or thought from the past. “[Doctors] limit the supply of doctors to keep salaries high, and use legislation to shut out competition from other medical professions.” (And he repeats the usual cry about the U.S. lagging behind other developed nations in quality measures.)
The distillate is that doctors are bad. They tried to limit their own supply over a century ago, tried to kill managed care, and too many of them want to get rich as unnecessary specialists.
Is Barnard truly ignorant, or simply dishonest in pushing an accepted party line? He claims, “The thin supply of physicians drives up costs. U.S. physicians make twice as much as the average developed-world physician.” But he is applying the basic economic principle to an artificial context that ignores economics. Costs are far more a function of price inflation (caused by government interference/entitlements), premium spikes (government-Big Insurance cronyism), counterproductive administrative overhead (government, Big Insurance, hospital corporations), and defensive medicine (hug a lawyer). If greedy doctors are to blame for cost increases, then how could he explain the success of DPC? A rhetorical question of course, because truly market-driven medicine will not enter into Barnard’s (third) worldview. He cries about physicians lobbying in favor of capping Medicare funds for residency slots in 1997. Barnard does not have the imagination or honesty to question why it’s up to the federal government to fund residency slots in the first place, and how this invited AMA corruption.
Another thing Barnard can’t grasp is that greedy doctors, including evil specialists, can’t really set their own costs as he imagines. Most have to work within price caps established by the parties he ignores, thus having to see more and more to make their obscene profits. If docs were truly able to jack up prices they way he implies, they would lobby like hell for fewer medical school slots, double current prices, and work half as hard.
In the same breath, this unoriginal parrot complains about the lack of primary care doctors, and how doctors “restrict the scopes of practice of nurse practitioners, midwives, physician assistants, and other mid-level healthcare professionals.” So while this clearly overpaid scribe whines that doctors make too much, he wants more docs, who he will seek to pay on a socialized medicine scale, while putting them in competition with LELT’s.
The whole thing is one more appeal for lower cost, limited access, government-run everything. Nothing new here. And when Mr. Barnard develops acute urinary retention from an overly large prostate, unfixable by a primary care tech in the clinic, may he enjoy his ER wait for an overworked, underpaid urologist.