Health care is neither a right nor a privilege … it’s a service. Like any other service, it needs to be paid for. Doctors, nurses, technicians, pharma reps, janitors, scientists, and even the construction crews that build medical facilities all expect to be paid for their work. Crazy, I know.
Of course people are generally decent and don’t mind taking on the occasional pro-bono case for someone that really needs care but doesn’t have any realistic way to pay for it, but overall, everyone has to bills to pay, so doctors have to charge people. After all, medical school isn’t exactly cheap.
Now that the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare and effectively enacted the biggest tax increase on the middle class in history, some 32 million Americans will soon be forced to purchase health insurance. It’s ok though, because it’s not a mandate that violates our personal freedom of choice; it’s just a tax.
Who exactly is going to treat all these new patients? We are increasing the demand for health services at the same time that the supply of those services is dwindling. Fewer people are choosing to go into medicine these days, and really, can you blame them? Hey, you know what sounds fun? Intensive study and training for a decade or more to go into a high-pressure field where you’re not allowed to charge what your services are worth.
A funny thing happens when the government says medical practitioners can only charge certain people certain amounts, and those amounts don’t cover their costs. They have to make it up elsewhere, by raising the rates of everyone else. Then guess what happens? They have to stop accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients altogether. Not because they want to, but because they’ll go out of business if they don’t.
A physician shortage in the U.S. was expected even before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Now the group estimates that there will be a shortage of 63,000 doctors by 2015 and 130,600 by 2025.
So, yay Obamacare! Everyone has health insurance now! Reminder: Health insurance does not equal health care. Be prepared for longer waits, hasty service, and the dreaded rationing. It’s not just a Republican scare tactic -- it’s a fact.
Image via rosmary/Flickr