According to physicians, the medical profession is breaking down. Obamacare is addressing a real problem, but it has not solved it. It is making it worse.
We might end up living in a nation where everyone has substandard health insurance, without enough physicians to treat them.
Some medical specialists—like cosmetic surgeons—are doing just fine, and most physicians are earning a good living, but primary care physicians are fleeing the profession.
Outlining the problem on the Daily Beast (via Maggie’s Farm), internist Daniela Drake explains that 90% of physicians advise young people against joining the field. She adds that physicians are especially prone to commit suicide.
In her words:
Simply put, being a doctor has become a miserable and humiliating undertaking. Indeed, many doctors feel that America has declared war on physicians—and both physicians and patients are the losers.
Not surprisingly, many doctors want out. Medical students opt for high-paying specialties so they can retire as quickly as possible. Physician MBA programs—that promise doctors a way into management—are flourishing. The website known as the Drop-Out-Club—which hooks doctors up with jobs at hedge funds and venture capital firms—has a solid following. In fact, physicians are so bummed out that 9 out of 10 doctors would discourage anyone from entering the profession.
Why would there be a war on physicians? Perhaps, it’s part of the war on privilege and the war on success. We can’t allow any single group of individuals to do that much better than the rest… unless, of course, they funnel large amounts of money to the right politicians.
Physicians feel that they are drowning in insurance forms and regulatory burdens. So many different insurance forms means that physicians or their staff must spend an inordinate amount of time doing administrative work.
It’s not just that patients pay through higher insurance premiums, but they also pay when physicians do not have the time or the energy to do their best work for each of them.
Of course, Obamacare has not solved the problem. It has not mandated a unified insurance system, but, as Drake points out: “has codified this broken system into law.”
Drake is too kind to point out that Obamacare also does not rein in the threat of malpractice.
If you were a physician, how would you feel if you knew that your decisions were going to be second-guessed by trial lawyers? Does the word “demoralized” come to mind?
How bad is it? Drake explains:
But the primary care doctor doesn’t have the political power to say no to anything—so the “to-do” list continues to lengthen. A stunning and unmanageable number of forms—often illegible—show up daily on a physician’s desk needing to be signed. Reams of lab results, refill requests, emails, and callbacks pop up continually on the computer screen. Calls to plead with insurance companies are peppered throughout the day. Every decision carries with it an implied threat of malpractice litigation. Failing to attend to these things brings prompt disciplining or patient complaint. And mercilessly, all of these tasks have to be done on the exhausted doctor’s personal time.
In many ways, physicians have lost the battle to the trial lawyers. The threat of malpractice, the need to placate patients so that they do not sue, has contributed mightily to the problem. Yet, Drake does not mention the role of lawyers in producing the current state of affairs.
But, how else to explain the fact that the leaders of the profession believe that physicians need to be subjected to extra testing, to place their professional competence beyond question.
If the medical profession has seen itself defined by a media narrative that portrays doctors as corrupt, a threat to everyone’s health, who benefits from that narrative? Trial lawyers. If the nation believes that physicians are error-prone, juries are more likely to reward the victims of such supposed errors.
Drake explains how the narrative has been crafted:
Certainly, the relentlessly negative press coverage of physicians sets the tone. “There’s a media narrative that blames physicians for things the doctor has no control over,” says Kevin Pho, MD, an internist with a popular blog where physicians often vent their frustrations. Indeed, in the popular press recently doctors have been held responsible for everything from the wheelchair-unfriendly furniture to lab fees for pap smears.
The meme is that doctors are getting away with something and need constant training, watching and regulating. With this in mind, it’s almost a reflex for policy makers to pile on the regulations. Regulating the physician is an easy sell because it is a fantasy—a Freudian fever dream—the wish to diminish, punish and control a disappointing parent, give him a report card, and tell him to wash his hands.
Medicine is over-regulated because some people believe that physicians cannot be truly caring if they are in it for profit. If their interests are venal, not godly, they need to be punished for doing so well.
Considering how bad it is and how much worse it’s going to get, it’s becoming more and more difficult to deny the fact that Obamacare is merely a prelude to a government take-over of the medical system.
Of course, the proponents of a single-payer system now have to explain the looming failure of Obamacare. They will have to explain whether bureaucrats, not being motivated by profit, can ever get anything right.