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Shortage of Doctors Raising Cost of Health Care

Sunday, December 14th, 2008
Posted in Debate by Joel Gross

The NYTimes has released an article detailing the current short supply of doctors and the coming shortage of primary care physicians that is greatly contributing to the rising cost of health care.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/health/11doctors.html?ref=health

Healthcare costs are so high because the American Medical Association, as Thomas Keynes (famous economist) put it, “The most powerful trade union in the history of man.” The AMA and it’s lobbyists help control which universities are allowed to train doctors, as well as the amount of training that they receive. Many specialists do need twelve years of training, but for many doctors that’s not really necessary. I think that we should introduce a new class of physician: doctors who take care of smaller, less important health issues like stitches, colds, etc for a far lower wage rate. I also think that the training and certification of physicians should be deregulated to allow the emergence of businesses that can provide extremely low cost healthcare. Seriously, many types of health care have been established for decades and their treatments are known to everyone in the medical field. If some of these basic medical treatments were treated as commodities rather than extremely customized jobs, the cost of health care would drop significantly.

According to the US government report in 2006 on health care spending in America, we are spending on average over $7,000 per person.‚  Spending on health care has increased much faster than the rate of inflation for many years and it’s time to pop this artifical bubble.‚  I hate that the government won’t allow me to select less expensive, less trained physicians for my care if that is what I wanted (and I do).

I recently had a simple physical and STD tests (i’m clean!) that cost over $1,200.‚  To me that is an obscene number.‚  The doctor spent maybe 20 minutes with me and then sent me off to do my tests than home. Ridiculous.

What’s my solution?‚  Reduce the amount of training time required for certain classes of nurses and phsyicians and take away some of the excessive regulations on medical schools and medical practices.‚  I would love to see health care become a commodity that you could purchase for inexpensive prices.‚  Bring on Dr. Costco! :)