Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and the rest of the Democratic potentials for president are actively pushing for Medicare for all. According to the USA Today opinion page written by Dr. Marc Siegel, "Medicare for All government chokehold would be even worse than private insurance."
The expense of this program is astronomical. Estimates have it placed somewhere around the 30 Trillion dollar range over the next ten years. However, if you eliminate the cost of this program, there are other serious consequences that the Democrats are failing to recognize.
First and foremost is the consequence of general practitioner offices being bogged down from the influx of potential patients who have been waiting for "free health care." Every doctor likes to keep their books filled, however, the influx of patient flow will create a waiting period many people are not accustomed to. Some waits could be a month long for routine exams. And the majority of primary care physicians would be relegated to turning over their expertise to nurse practitioners.
Another issue at hand is the referral of specialty services. The wait for specialty treatment would overwhelm the system. Primary care doctors, would have to fill out paperwork even more so for referrals, and the wait for even being seen by a specialist would be similar to the Veterans Administration.
Doctors offices would have to be compliant with this new system, thus requiring more continuing education courses just to be compliant with this Medicare for all system. Staff would be required by the state in order to be compliant. Again, incurring more cost and wait.
Many doctors would leave their field. Medicare has a low compensation package for doctors. It is between 40-60% of what insurance companies pay. And doctors, who have dedicated their entire life to the care of patients would see their income drop. This drop in providers would ultimately lead to a bottleneck of patients at other doctors offices. Again causing backlog of patients waiting to be treated.
Medical schools in order to compensate for the lack of qualified doctors would be forced to accept into their programs less qualified individuals wanting to acquire the title of Doctor. And medical schools would be forced to lower their requirements of passing these doctors. Either that, or the United States would have to import doctors from foreign countries to cover the backlog. Doctors not trained in the United States, but seeking residency in the United States because they have a medical degree from a foreign country.
Another issue is the malpractice claims that will be issued with respect to this. Lawyers will be inundated with business due to the inadequate care patients are receiving, and the legal business will be booming in the field of medical malpractice. Driving up the cost of malpractice insurance for all practicing medical professionals. Another reason for medical professionals to quit the business. On a bright note, maybe many medical professionals after practicing medicine for more than twenty or thirty years will decide to switch gears and practice law.
The amount of time spent between doctor and patient will be severely limited. Patients who have several complaints with respect to their health will be relegated to discussing only the most pertinent complaint, and there will be less time to form a confidential relationship with one's doctor due to the limited time constraint placed on the health care professional.
Surgeries that are elective, such as hip replacements, or tendon tears, tonsil removal will be postponed for long periods of time. And medicines will be distributed like candy. Instead of the doctor discussing diet options with a diabetic candidate, the doctor will automatically be prescribing medicine. Or patients who are borderline high blood pressure will be given blood pressure medication instead of the doctor instructing them on ways they can lower their blood pressure.
Patients will lose faith in their doctor-patient relationships, and it is quite possible that the entire health care system, as fragile as it currently is could collapse. Doctors, will not have time to perform adequate examinations, and many underlying diseases will go undiagnosed.
Interested parties in the different health care systems being proposed by Congress should click here. The website outlines Side-by-Side Comparison of Medicare-for-all and Public Plan Proposals Introduced in the 116th Congress. None of them address where the money will be generated to provide for these programs.
WECU opinion: Health care is already at a crisis level. Physicians, dentists, and other health care providers have spent a lifetime acquiring the necessary skills to adequately diagnose and treat patients. Punishing them would put immense pressure on the health care system. While we agree that there are problems within the health care system, by no means do we advocate for government-run plans. The government should not be in the business of determining who receives health care, and who is subject to restrictions when trying to obtain medical help. There needs to be reform in the purchasing of medications, due to the fact that medicines can be purchased in foreign countries at a far greater discount than in the United States. However, trusting the government to negotiate prescription prices has already proven that this is not an adequate option.
Health Care should be treated as a competitive industry. Imagine if the government would step out, and allow individuals to purchase health care from groups not involving employment. Neighborhoods could negotiate for health care options, and as long as premiums were met, insurance could be provided. This would directly compete with larger more powerful insurance companies and would drive down prices. However, at this time, that is an improbability as there are restrictions and regulations with respect to insurance providers.
This would allow organizations the ability to lobby pharmaceutical industries and health care agencies for a more comprehensive and less expensive plan. Thus decreasing costs to the consumer without governmental interference