“Affordable Care Act” Forgot About Doctors

Barack Obama has declared the “Affordable Care Act” a success.

Success — by what standard? By what criteria?

“Well, at this point, enough people are signing up that the Affordable Care Act is going to work,” Obama said before the official announcement that sign-ups had passed the five million mark. “The insurance companies will continue to offer plans.”

This makes it clearer. The standard of success for Obamacare is getting everyone covered. It doesn’t really matter how they’re covered; just so they’re covered.

But such a standard defies countless other factors.

For one thing, it denies the rights, needs, perspectives, talents and responsibilities of doctors. Doctors? You know: the people who provide all the expertise and services which make “coverage” a valuable thing in the first place.

For one thing, there are no more doctors than there were before. But now we suddenly have millions of more people covered than before. As it stands, fewer doctors are going into primary care medicine, the most crucial area of practice and diagnosis. If you don’t get proper diagnosis, or the right referral, from a primary care doctor, then a specialist is not going to be of much use to you.

This is what government intervention does. It creates demand while doing nothing about supply. In the process, we have shortages and reductions in quality.

You might say: “But we can’t leave some people out. Everyone must be covered.” But how or why is it valuable to cover more people if there isn’t a great enough supply of doctors to treat them? You haven’t done the newly covered any favors. They’re now just waiting in line with everyone else, experiencing reductions in quality or delay — the origins of which they’ll never know, because doctors and surgeons won’t discuss with their patients the precise impact of all these new laws, rules and regulations on their own livelihood and practice.

“But doctors shouldn’t be selfish,” is what both Barack and Michelle Obama (and their kind) have said at different junctures, and this is how many people really feel. But if doctors are to have no self-interest, no sense of personal reward or self-preservation at all … then what exactly are you counting on to enable them to excel and take pride and joy in what they’re doing?

Do you want no reward or compensation for what you’re doing? Do you want to be paid the same, or otherwise rewarded the same, regardless of the complexity of the task that you’re doing? I doubt it. Then why is that OK for your doctors?

It’s certainly not OK for lawyers or others in politically connected professions. We keep raising the salaries of our elected leaders so they can do nothing but raise the national debt into oblivion, perhaps sacrificing the whole future of the country (including the value of our currency) in the process. If they are to be rewarded so well for what they do, then why must doctors face increased dependence on Medicare and Medicaid or government-run “private” insurance groups for their income — at declining reimbursement rates?

Most doctors are afraid to ask these questions. They worry it’s unprofessional. They worry it will be seen as mean and they will lose business. They worry that the government might come after them, probably not a paranoid concern in an era when the federal government is taking over more and more of everything, including but not limited to the entire medical sector.

Obama and his fellows in the political-academic Establishment are supposed to be smarter than us. But smart people take into account the complexity of numerous interacting variables. Obama, with his “affordable care” law, is massively oversimplifying and evading. He’s saying, almost literally, “Get more people covered — regardless of how — and then the problem is fixed.”

Even an Economics 101 student could grasp that you cannot artificially inflate demand while leaving supply alone without negative consequences. Even a Psychology 101 student can grasp that you don’t treat physicians and surgeons like they’re commodities who must be satisfied with whatever they get, and expect them to keep delivering the stellar service they’ve been providing for many decades now (under difficult enough conditions created by the government.)

Obamacare may be the law of the land, but it’s based on economic fallacy, psychological naivete and willful refusal to consider the wide spectrum of facts that make medical care as we know it what it actually is.

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