Which Government Healthcare Plan Is Better?
By G. Keith Smith, M.D.
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
When politicians promote the superiority of their government plan to “replace” ObamaCare, my reaction is simple: I don’t care what a mugger does with my money.
The difference between the thought processes of the Austrian economists and those of other schools is this: the Austrians say in essence that they don’t care what you do with money robbed from them. All they care about is that they were robbed. Any discussion distal to the robbery is superfluous.
I like the Austrian approach—very simple but extremely powerful. When statists are arguing the merits of their various plans, one simple question moots the discussion of the details: “But you have to rob me first either way, right?”
This issue must be confronted first. Any discussion downstream from a rotten premise is at best a waste of time, at worst very distracting and destructive.
Human beings long for liberty. This means the right not to be robbed, or conscripted into a scheme to serve the common welfare, or even “for their own good.”
I choose liberty because I want to be free. Not because I want to get rich. And not because liberty results in the best and most rational allocation of scarce resources, even though it does. This is simply a bonus.
The loss of liberty in government schemes such as the Unaffordable Care Act (UCA) has many bad effects. Here are some anchoring general premises that apply to the UCA as well as government-run replacements:
1. The consequences will be borne by patients. Talk of how this negatively affects doctors is beside the point. The UCA or other scheme may hurt physicians’ business, but that matters only because patients will be denied, delayed, and euthanized as a result.
2. Almost anything that oozes out of Washington will line the pockets of those who wrote or promoted it.
3. Coverage doesn’t mean care. This is a basic fact that needs constant repetition.
4. The UCA is unworkable. This is not unintended. The plan is meant to fail. A single payer system is the ultimate goal of the statists and they hope to accomplish this by creating chaos in the medical economy.
5. The electronic medical record systems, a key feature of most Plans, will serve as the KGB of medical intelligence. It is ironic that the propaganda surrounding this intrusion succeeded in getting physicians and facilities to provide the state with this information voluntarily, rather than hiring goons to gather it!
6. Physicians working as employees of hospitals are key to the success of a state-run plan, because, rather than working for their patients, these quasi-physicians serve the interest of their employer and the state.
7. As the state becomes even more involved in medical care, people’s illnesses will represent a liability on the balance sheet of the state and its private partners. Those with chronic illness will be targeted for neglect or extermination in order to save face for the increasingly bankrupt state health plan.
Those physicians who brave this storm, stay dedicated to their patients, embrace and follow free-market principles, and eschew the leverage of third-party payment will thrive as the distinction between the care they render and that of their employed counterparts will become even more stark as time goes by.
It’s another example of the premise that a good tree yields good fruit, and a bad tree, bad fruit.
Dr. G. Keith Smith is a board certified anesthesiologist in private practice since 1990. In 1997, he co-founded The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, an outpatient surgery center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, owned by 40 of the top physicians and surgeons in central Oklahoma. Dr. Smith serves as the medical director, CEO and managing partner while maintaining an active anesthesia practice.
In 2009, Dr. Smith launched a website displaying all-inclusive pricing for various surgical procedures, a move that has gained him and the facility, national and even international attention. Many Canadians and uninsured Americans have been treated at his facility, taking advantage of the low and transparent pricing available.
Operation of this free market medical practice, arguably the only one of its kind in the U.S., has gained the endorsement of policymakers and legislators nationally. More and more self-funded insurance plans are taking advantage of Dr. Smith’s pricing model, resulting in significant savings to their employee health plans. His hope is for as many facilities as possible to adopt a transparent pricing model, a move he believes will lower costs for all and improve quality of care.
Dr. Smith resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Contact: KSmith@surgerycenterok.com, 405-627-0274