This article from UK TimesOnline http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article5375694.ece typifies the problems that occur when government bureaucrats manage and control a country’s national healthcare system. Adding more bureaucrats to micromanage how doctors practice medicine, in particular, limiting the number of hours a doctor can work to 48 hours/week, is a prescription for disaster. Imagine you are very sick on a Friday morning and arrive at your family doctor’s office. The door is locked with a CLOSED sign. Alas, your doctor finished working his statute -limited work week on Thursday afternoon and you are out of luck until Monday morning. For the few of you patients who still have a doctor who will “call you in an antibiotic”, he/she won’t be allowed to take phone calls after hours either–contrary to the opinion of insurance companies, taking phone calls is considered work (just ask an attorney). Every primary care doctor who has been in practice more than a few years can tell you about patients who always call after hours and on the weekend who think their doctor just enjoys talking to them and is eagerly waiting for their beeper or cell phone to ring at midnight . On the line is one of the doctor’s patients, who has had symptoms for several days, has self diagnosed a recurrent sinus infection that responded so well to Zithromax in 2004, the last time he came in for an office visit.
When Mr. Obama is able to get his socialized healthcare passed, changes will probably come in steps. I expect a broad extension of S-CHIP to all children and then to an ever enlarging adult population. Because the socialists in an Obama adminstration will preach for equality in all aspects of healthcare, I predict a medical system like Canada’s or Great Britain’s will eventually be passed by a Democrat dominated Congress, though a 2-tiered system will likely survive—Congress will certainly exempt themselves from socialized medicine!
In a future post, I hope to discuss reimbursement for doctors. While Congress gave themselves a $4100 payraise, doctors had to fight to prevent a 5.5% Medicare reimbursement cut. Due to decreased reimbursement over the last decade from Medicare and private insurance, while overhead costs continued to rise, many doctors are making 20 to 30% less than 10 years ago in absolute dollars (not including effect of inflation).