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AMA Reduces Quality & Quantity of Health Care

Sunday, March 15th, 2009
Posted in Education by Joel Gross

Important note: Please keep in mind that I am not talking about who PAYS for medical care in this post, but instead talking about how it is provided and the business models available.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is the most powerful union in the history of man and has crushed the life out of medical care in the United States for well over a century.‚  Americans still have some of the best medical care in the world, but the rest of the world lives mostly under oppressive, huge governments that cause far more inefficiencies than even the AMA.‚  Being the best of a very poor lot doesn’t mean crap.

Think about it for a moment: What does the AMA actually do?‚  The AMA does the same thing that any trade union tries to do: protect its members by limiting competition and raising prices.‚  How does it do this?‚  By setting up extremely high barriers to entry in the medical fields and limiting business and pricing options available.‚  The AMA also requires that doctors who have received extremely advanced training perform some very basic procedures that could be provided better by a technician.‚  The AMA offers a thousand excuses for it’s work in severely limiting freedom and choice, most of which are easily refuted.

The AMA claims that by severely limiting the number of new medical practitioners, it raises the quality of medical care.‚  Even if this was true, it’s like the automotive industry claiming that only Mercedes cars should be made because they are safer and of a higher quality.‚  It’s laughable: people need different vehicles for different purposes and different budgets.‚  The Soviets followed the same philosophy of providing a few “high quality” options equally to everyone… and look how well that worked out.‚  All of them drove the ugliest, least reliable cars on earth.‚  Why do people insist on continuing to push the same ideas that have been proven time and again not to work?

Right now in America, to be a physician you must have graduated from an AMA approved medical school.‚  Those medical schools in turn severely limit the number of applicants they accept in order to keep the total number of physicians down and prices up.‚  The AMA is basically a cartel that fixes prices and service levels for the rest of the country.‚  Doesn’t anyone else think that it is completely ridiculous that many doctors who perform procedures just as routine and easy as getting a tattoo get paid $300,000 per year?!?!

Solution: Allow the free market to work to offer high quality medical care for low prices, just like it does for electronics, refrigerators, washers, clothes, shoes, etc.‚  The individual practitioner and institutionalized care business model forced on us by the AMA harms American citizens.‚  We should have access to a broad variety of options in medical care.‚  One potential business model would be Costco-style medical care: A company full of doctors and dentists who have met certain quality standards who offer their services for very low prices.‚ ‚  The company would take great care to ensure that it’s physicians offered the best medical care because it’s reputation and brand (and it’s viability as a business) would be at stake each time a procedure was performed.‚  Currently, this type of model has been effectively banned thanks to the AMA.‚  I am not even saying that this is the best model, but it would only benefit consumers for them to have this as another option for their medical care.‚  Instead, we are trapped with basically the same business model that was created hundreds of years ago and probably isn’t the most efficient way of delivering quality medical care.‚  I think that anyone who wants to perform medical procedures should be able to open up a business and that the AMA be able to privately certify physicians if it wished.‚  People would not go to doctors who didn’t know what they were doing, just like they don’t buy their plasma televisions from sketchy dudes in alleys.‚  They would go to department stores, small shops or different types of businesses that had proven to be reputable.‚  Give the people back control over their medical destiny: No one cares more about their own health than the people themselves.