Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Red Tape Destroys Medicine

According to the American Medical Association, half of all current primary care doctors in the US want to quit. They cite red tape from insurance companies and government as the reason they want to throw in the towel.

I work in the medical insurance industry, so this problem is of particular interest to me. Yes, insurance companies have far too much red tape. Why? Because of government regulations, mandates, and reporting requirements. Government also shackles doctors with its own list of red tape hoops that they need to jump through as well. But we all know that government forms, codes, regulations and the like are tiresome, extremely time-consuming, and redundant to the third power.

And now with Obama elected, we are poised to increase the amount of red tape and regulations in an attempt to solve this problem. WTF? Let's take a look at what one doctor says:

"People who have insurance can't find a doctor, so suddenly we are going to give insurance to a whole bunch of people who haven't had it, without increasing the number of physicians?" he says. "It's going to be a problem."

This guy is right on the money. I personally know of a number of facilities that are now refusing insurance, medicare, and medicaid, and instead going to a cash-only payment system. Why? Because the red tape from government and insurance isn't worth the hassle. The red tape drives up the cost of doing business, and when they switch to a cash-only system, they are able to offer medical services at extremely discounted rates, therefore making insurance coverage moot. How ironic!

So we have a system where red tape drives up the cost of service to the point that the insurance offers a minimal cost advantage, if any. We have a system where red tape makes half the doctors want to quit. We have a system where red tape makes doctors refuse insurance patients and go cash-only just to stay in business (and they seem to be thriving when they do so). And yet, we have politicians and other supposed "experts" who insist that to be uninsured in America is a travesty, and that the solution to all this is to give more people insurance and dump more regulations onto the entire industry.

I had an amusing conversation about this very topic this morning with a co-worker. It went something like this:

Me: Half the doctors want to quit due to the red tape.
Him: That's gonna change once we get universal healthcare.
Me: Yea it sure will! We will have insurance for everyone alongside a network of doctors that won't take insurance patients.
Him: Well I'm sure that Obama would make it illegal to discriminate againt insurance patients and refuse service to them.
Me: That will go over real well with the doctors. They will all quit practicing medicine or move to other countries!
Him: (sarcastically) Well maybe it should be made illegal to quit practicing medicine too!
Me: (getting the joke) Oh yea, the best medicine is that which is provided at the barrel of a gun!

In Soviet Russia, medicine practices YOU!

1 comment:

Kent McManigal said...

"Me: Half the doctors want to quit due to the red tape.
Him: That's gonna change once we get universal healthcare."

Yeah, then ALL of them will want to quit. The other "incentives" will only strengthen their resolve.