The Doctor Is Out at the Worst Possible Time

This is perhaps my favorite line from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with regard to doctors who support, or tolerate, socialized medicine:

‘Let them discover, in the operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn’t.’

Don’t you want doctors who have initiative, confidence and self-esteem? If it doesn’t matter, then what qualities are you planning to rely on when it comes time to cure your disease, or perhaps even save your life?

If you were in the middle of a natural disaster, you’d gravitate towards a leader with confidence, initiative and rationality (unless you were such a leader yourself). You wouldn’t gravitate towards someone who seems to think, ‘Well, whatever you do to me, I don’t care.’

A medical problem, especially a serious one, constitutes a crisis. It’s no less a crisis than a natural disaster, at least so far as you and your loved ones are concerned. Medical professionals are your leaders. They need more than training and competence, although these are crucial. Just as crucial is the fact that they’re left alone to think, rather than beholden to some incomprehensible government formula developed by a national health board at the Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville, MD.

What I find amazing is the contrast between opposition to managed care, back in the 1990s, as opposed to the coming of Obama managed care today. Managed care was a for-profit corporate response of insurance companies to the demands of the marketplace. Simply put, the marketplace demanded the cheapest health insurance premiums possible while at the same time the best medical care possible. Of course, nobody mentioned that the reason medical care became so expensive is that Medicare and other government programs/regulations, such as forcing hospitals to treat everyone for free if necessary, were driving costs up.

News stories were everywhere on how ‘bad’ it was for managed care companies to try and self-regulate the care of doctors and nurses. Some of these concerns were valid, and others were exaggerated. The point is: Media, academics, politicians and just plain people did NOT approve of insurance companies interfering in the practice of medical care. Obamacare, while generally opposed by a majority of the population, is not arousing the same outrage. Yet Obamacare will do the exact same thing, only as a largely unaccountable government rather than an accountable, for-profit company. Why the double standard?

Get real, American doctors. We’re in for a lot of managed care in the coming years, as Obamacare takes shape. There will be fewer incentives for private health insurance companies to charge low rates. Government-guaranteed insurance is the equivalent of a public school. The vast majority of people send their children to public schools, whether they like those schools, or not; whether those schools deliver competent education, or not. You’re stuck with what you get, if you cannot afford private school in the two-tiered system created by government nationalization of education. It’s going to be the exact same thing once health insurance and medical care are a guaranteed right for every citizen. Most Americans are going to be stuck with the equivalent of a public school for their health problems, maladies and life-threatening diseases.

Where’s the outrage? Where’s the concern on the part of the AMA, and doctors? All I hear is silence.

The doctor who puts up with it all, and even endorses government involvement in medicine, is not a heroic and selfless practitioner. He (or she) lacks the proper grasp of what really makes medical treatment possible: The operations of the own practitioner’s mind. You would think that he (or she) would know this!

Some years back, I talked with a retiring physician. I have no idea what his political views were, and we were not discussing socialized medicine in particular. He commented, ‘The kinds of doctors coming into practice now are different. They’re less ambitious and more focused on being service-oriented.’ I asked him if he thought this was a good thing, or a bad thing. He replied, ‘I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to find out.’

This conversation took place nearly 20 years ago, after the previous (and failed) attempt by the Clinton Administration to do what the Obama Administration has now successfully achieved. Since that time, I believe he has been proven right. For so little opposition to exist from doctors themselves reveals a lack of initiative, self-esteem and self-confidence on the part of doctors. Or maybe they’re just depressed. Either way, this is more than a little unsettling to those of us who are, or who eventually will be, their patients.

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