There are howls of outrage coming from the liberal community in Alberta, Canada. It seems that some doctors, desperate to protect their patients from the overcrowded and failing socialized medical system in their country, have set up private clinics to treat them. To circumvent Canadian laws, which prohibit charging for medical care, they have set up private, membership clinics where, for $2,000 a year, patients can access well staffed and equipped clinics and avoid the long waits and compromised care of the public system.
The leading Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, reports that “critics say that the clinics are taking physicians away from the public system making it even harder…to find a family doctor.” David Eggen, executive director of a group that supports the Canadian socialized system, Friends of Medicare, said that it’s already hard to find a family physician in Canada and that clinics like these, springing up in several Canadian cities, could make it even harder.
It does not seem to have occurred to defenders of socialized medicine that the system itself is causing the doctor shortage. Cuts in medical fees, overcrowding of facilities, shortages of equipment and space, and bureaucratic oversight have all combined to drive men and women out of family medical practice. Now, with a critical shortage looming, those who can afford to pay for adequate care are opting out of the public system and, literally, taking their lives into their own hands.
But it is illegal to make patients “have to pay a fee to gain access to health services” that are provided free by the government system. So patients and doctors are forming membership-only groups to avoid the legal penalties that could potential stop them from getting or giving the care that they need.
This is where the United States is headed. Socialism dries up the supply of medical care and forces ever stricter rationing of the available resources. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, “Eventually socialism runs out of other peoples’ money.”
With the full implementation of Obamacare and its likely cuts in physician reimbursement, more and more doctors will choose to opt out of Medicare and charge their patients for their care. The elderly who need specialized care will have no choice but to take out insurance, not to fill gaps in Medicare coverage, but to overlay the system with private coverage so they can get the care Medicare now provides to all seniors. If you want to see a family doctor, it will be rough unless you are paying for the care privately. And to see a specialist, at the low reimbursement rates afforded by the program in the future, will be well nigh impossible.
Medical care for the elderly will become like public housing or public education in the inner city. Those who can afford to go elsewhere will. Those who can’t will be left to fend for themselves in overcrowded public facilities that will be, at least, free.
And then, as in Canada, liberal critics will rail, not against the system that dried up the resources in the first place or against the socialist rules that drove doctors out of medicine, but against the private clinics for resources from the public sector.
By plunging our excellent medical care system into this new world of regulation, fee cuts, and care rationing, the U.S. is going down the disastrous road Canada has taken.
Unless we can elect a Republican majority in November and a GOP president in 2012, this is our future.