Because it sucks when your patients can't afford to see you

What's the opposite of "surprised"? (Seriously, I can't think of one.) I am... unsurprised to read this (via Political Animal):
Among all the players in the health care debate, doctors may be the least understood about where they stand on some of the key issues around changing the health care system. Now, a new survey finds some surprising results: A large majority of doctors say there should be a public option.

When polled, "nearly three-quarters of physicians supported some form of a public option, either alone or in combination with private insurance options," says Dr. Salomeh Keyhani. She and Dr. Alex Federman, both internists and researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, conducted a random survey, by mail and by phone, of 2,130 doctors. They surveyed them from June right up to early September.

Most doctors — 63 percent — say they favor giving patients a choice that would include both public and private insurance. That's the position of President Obama and of many congressional Democrats. In addition, another 10 percent of doctors say they favor a public option only; they'd like to see a single-payer health care system. Together, the two groups add up to 73 percent.

Well, it's nice to see that I'm not alone.

I think the reason most doctors are in favor of a public option is that most doctors:

1) Want their patients to be able to afford health care, and

2) Have seen first-hand how the private insurance industry has failed.

It takes very few visits wherein patients tell you they've lost their insurance, and thus can no longer afford the medication they've been on for years, to realize that our current system simply does not afford reliable coverage. A public option will provide a choice for people who are dissatisfied with their current coverage, and a useful goad to the insurance industry to improve the service they provide. I understand perfectly why most physicians support it.

I am also unsurprised to read this:
Politicians in Washington turn to the AMA for support and guidance, even though fewer than a third of practicing doctors belong to the lobbying group.

The AMA's own position on a health overhaul has, at times, been hard to pinpoint. In July, it praised the bill that came out of the House of Representatives. That bill included a public option. But the AMA made it clear that what it really liked was that it eliminated cuts in doctors' fees from Medicare.

Of course that's what the AMA really liked. Because the AMA is a lobbying group for an industry, not for the public welfare. I find it wryly amusing that the AMA is somehow viewed as a medical authority, which it most certainly is not. (As I've said before, I've been proudly not a member for ten years!) The Medicare reimbursement schedule is weighted heavily toward procedure-based interventions, so physicians who specialize in providing said procedures are going to deploy their lobbyists to protect their interests.


  1. There are at least two ways to fix the problem: one is to pony up money for people who can't, won't, or don't have insurance. Another is to have the government use the NPR twitter formula (three word reform slogans) -- Doctors Make Less. Of course, we can't make it all up on physician salaries, so along with that we have Fewer Diagnostic Tests, Longer Wait Times, Slower Medical Advances, Fewer New Drugs, Treat Elderly Last, and many others. Good intentions can't repeal the laws of economics.

  2. JG, I see you continue to play the role of the roaring asshole. That being said, we do not need to cut any tests, treat the elderly last, have longer waits and cancel new drugs. We simply need to get more people into the system not price the low income and poor out. Another way to bring down costs is to have a single payer option. Not everyone must join, but the choice should be there. I have written here about our BCBS plan and the benefit to having a very large group in the pool. Big pharma has raped us for years and with the assistance from people like you they continue to do so. The last time I traveled to Europe, I needed a refill on my Combivent Inhaler. Here at CVS it cost me $44.00. The same exact drug there cost me $7.00. I needed an X-ray of my shoulder. My Sawbones sent me to the local hospital where they charged $345.00. Yes, I can afford the treatment I receive, but there are those patients my physician treats and he does not get paid a cent. I also know he hoards drug company samples and gives them to those who cannot afford to purchase drugs... God bless him. I also have a dear friend who is an oncologist and am amazed at the total cost of the give-away to his low income patients. Some drugs cost $3,000.00 per treatment. Yea no break from Big Pharma. Your arguments are as phony as they come. Those greedy bastards have been raping and pillaging us for years and Idiots like you back them.