For Profit Medicine: When Have We Had Otherwise?

Now there's heat coming down on Jack Layton over using a private clinic for a hernia operation. That's a pickle because the NDP is diametrically opposed to private-for-profit medicine. Gimme a break. The only place you see not-for-profit medicine is on a military base.
The richest working people I know are doctors. I watched a friend move here from Calgary to set up a practice. He had to set-up an office, hire staff, get all of his billing in order. At the end of his day do his profits flow back into the health care system? No. He gets to take home the $120K+/yr. With minimum wage paying $16,000/year, that extra $100K seems like profit to me. The Soviets and the Red Chinese and the NDP never figured this out: everyone is born as a propeitorship. We're born capitalists. When your prosper in life, it's like a profitable business. The only difference between a person and a corporation is that the corporation has a life of its own. If the NDP want to keep out for-profit medicine, they have to nationalize the healthcare services throughout Canada. No more going to a private lab or a doctor's office downtown: you have to show up to a government building and wait your turn.
In Canada's world of socialized medicine being a medical professional is more like being a gold plated welfare recipient. If you are any other sort of a professional, you move into an area, hang out a shingle and hope for business. If you aren't any good, your clients won't pay you. Other professionals have to stand on a good credit ratings to get a break for their business. None of this is true if you are a physician. You show up: other doctors will refer their clients/patients to you. If you give crappy service, you submit your bill to the government and they will pay you. If you give REALLY crappy service, the province's Medical Association will step and bully your victims into silence. Because you're part of a Medical Association, you can get obscenely good rates for financing: like prime +1% right off the bat.
This is why health care is such a contentious issue. We think we have socialized medicine but where using for-profit people to carry out the work. No matter what the bill, we (the taxpayers) pay it. The Medicare system is broken and Jack Layton's concept of stemming the trend of for-profit medicineis bunk.

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Comments

Tim said…
What we have in Canada is socialized health insurance, really. The doctors can't charge more than a scheduled fee, but that's standard insurance practice. My small peek into the workings of public health care suggested that the *real* money was in volume, volume, volume. Even so, a laid-back GP who gives everyone a half hour appointment still does pretty well.

Two-tiered medicine really does damage general access, though, because as you've pointed out, profit is the name of the game, not idealism. Newer and more effective treatments *aren't* being developed by a socialized system, and will make themselves available to whoever can hand over the most cash.

I imagine Hippocrates would be most displeased.

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