Universal Health Care again

I posted a while ago about Universal Health Care. A friend and I were chatting last night about it and that motivated me to discuss it again.

A couple things he said got to me. For one, he said something like “40 million people in this country don’t have access to health care.” This is rubbish! (I used to have British friends … but then they got to know me better.)

The much-touted 40 million uninsured do have access to health care. They have to pay for it. My insurance doesn’t cover the cost of lunch at McDonald’s, but I still have access to it. I can walk into McDonald’s, slap down a couple bucks, and eat a meal with a lot of calories. Similarly, anyone who is prepared to pay cash can get an appointment with a doctor and pay for the care.

Oh, but they can’t afford it!! Yes they can. People who can’t afford it qualify for Medicaid. And we should all pay attention to Medicaid, because many doctors won’t accept Medicaid patients and some say the ones that do accept it aren’t all that great. We should notice this because Medicaid is the clear model for what universal health care will be.

Getting back to last night’s chat, I asked my friend how doctors would be paid in a universal health care system. Who makes that decision? And what guarantee do we have that the doctors won’t decide to go into another line of work when we stiff them on reimbursement?

Another friend of mine is a doctor, and he’s always talking about finding another way to make a living. He works long hours and makes good money, but he sees reimbursement rates being reduced every year, and thus his income looks like it will go down. So why should he bust his hump for that?

In last night’s chat, my liberal friend cast this doctor income issue in the context that doctors make too much money and that a system that reduces their pay wouldn’t be a bad thing. Really? Tell them that. From what I read, many doctors make somewhere between $100K and $200K. Not too shabby, but these are very talented people who work very hard. Many of them can find other ways of making money and might choose to do so if government screws up the health care system to bring doctor pay to a “fair” level of $100K or less.

I’m waiting to see a politician come out and say that doctors make too much money. You better hope you don’t get sick after you say that in a campaign. “Senator Smith … nice to see you. We’ve got some great medicine for you.”