Prepare to pay higher costs for health care

Freedom New Mexico

Proponents of the recently passed health care bill often stated that the United States should have universal health care “like Canada,” “like Europe,” “like other advanced nations.”

Opponents were quick to point out that like all those other nations, nationalized health care in this country would lead to long waits and worse care.

Within two weeks of the bill’s passage,

developments already are pointing to the apparent truth to those warnings.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the new law. Like a similar suit filed by several states, the AAPS challenges the

constitutionality of the act.

“If the (law) goes unchallenged, then it spells the end of freedom in medicine as we know it,” warns Jane M. Orient, M.D., the medical

society’s executive director. The plan, she contends, “will deliver higher costs, more hassles, fewer choices, less innovation, and less patient care.”

Orient also predicts a “dire shortage” of

doctors as a result.

Her prediction shouldn’t be taken lightly. A recent poll by HCD Research and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion found that of 1,217 doctors surveyed, 71 percent had a negative view of the health care bill.

Eighty percent of those doctors said they would have been less inclined to become doctors if such a health plan existed when they decided to study medicine. Even among the 29 percent who approve of the bill, 19 percent said it would make them less likely to pursue a medical career.

If the same disincentive carries into the general population, that means fewer people will apply for medical school in the coming years. This isn’t good news, since a shortage of 40,000 primary care doctors was predicted even before the bill’s passage.

Among current licensed physicians, just 30

percent are primary care doctors.

The shortages already are a reality in Massachusetts, which imposed state-run health care in 2006. The Massachusetts Medical Society recently reported that 40 percent of the state’s family and general care doctors, and more than half of the internists, already were seeing more people than they could handle, and weren’t accepting any new patients.

Many advocates of nationalized health care note that doctors don’t have to see all patients And under a government plan, where patients have fewer options, registered nurses and nurse practitioners, not doctors, would treat many patients. The advocates note that in many offices, nurses even now do much of the work, and patients see the doctor for just a few minutes.

But we don’t have enough nurses either. The shortage already is greater than 250,000 and it’s growing, since a similar shortage of nursing instructors limits schools’ ability to train more students. Medical experts predict the nursing shortage could reach 1 million by 2020.

Simply put, the nurses aren’t there to act as a backup when doctors can’t handle the caseload.

In Massachusetts, the shortage has led to higher health care costs. As a result, insurers have raised both premiums and deductibles, and many

residents report their direct costs have actually gone up under the state plan. The higher deductibles and difficulty in finding available doctors have led many people to self-treat many illnesses for which they would have seen a doctor before the state plan was enacted.

So as the effects of federal health care start to arise, area residents would do well to take a few precautions:

If you don’t already have a primary care

doctor, get one, fast. And start saving money to deal with the higher health care costs.