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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Life and Death Issue: Universal Health Care (III)

A Scarcity of Doctors

You’d probably never think that the United States has or ever could have a shortage of doctors. In America, you make an appointment to see your family physician and, bingo, you’re there. But when America’s top health insurers and providers met in early May at the White House their real aim was to sabotage our current health care system, which is the best in the world.

The present administration believes that a kinder, gentler, more socialistic system should supersede what we have. That is why when Mr. Obama was campaigning he kept repeating this phrase: “America is the greatest country in the world. Help me change it!” Huh? If it’s the greatest country in the world, why would we want to change it, especially if that “change we can believe in” entails socialized medicine?

Mr Obama and the health insurers vowed to save $2 trillion over the next ten years with this new plan. That was very interesting and certainly some were enthused and encouraged by the thought of a $2 trillion savings. The question that no one seemed particularly interested in asking was: How are you going to save the $2 trillion? The short, common sense answer is by cutting doctor’s fees and Medicare fees. This is the way it’s been done in other countries that languish under universal health care and the U.S. will be no different. As I write this, Congress is attempting to find a way to cut Medicare fees by 21%.[1]

“How does this translate into poorer health care coverage?” you might ask. That’s a good question. The intent is to cut doctor’s fees and to regulate medicine to the degree that doctors cannot make the kinds of decisions doctors are supposed to make because of bureaucratic red tape and hyper-control of resources. This is already true in countries like Sweden, Holland, Britain, and Canada and accounts for why many in those and other like countries are opting out of the socialized medicine and are heading towards privatization. It’s more than just a little bit ironic that while all these countries have lived through the baneful effects of socialized medicine, are starting to turn the corner, and are longing for privatization, America wants to give socialized medicine a shot? What! Are our elected officials really that stupid? Sadly, the answer is Yes and, we should add, greedy into the bargain, for they believe they stand to make more money on this abortive (no pun intended) undertaking.

Here’s how things work in the real world: Congress cuts Medicare by say, 25%, which brings about a concomitant cut in doctor’s fees, which, in turn, means that the doctors earn 25% less money. I’ll touch on how this works out in the practice later. The net result, however, is that these cuts discourage people from entering the medical field. As Dick Morris rightly observes, “The limited number of doctors and nurses in the United States is the key constraint on the availability of healthcare.”[2] The U.S. currently has about 800,000 doctors for a population of 300,000,000-plus. The average rate of growth in our physician cadre hovers around 1% annually. If that drops, coupled with an increasing retirement rate, it is going to be next to impossible to take these limited resources to treat the almost 50 million new patients that will join the ranks of the insured if universal health care is implemented in the United States.

Let’s compare these facts with what is occurring in the U.K and its National Health System (NHS). The press over there reports that twice as many bureaucrats now join NHS than doctors and nurses, and that 858,000 Brits were on a waiting list for an operation at the end of 2004, some of whom had been on the list for more than a year![3]

Personally, I think the 47 million without health care is a bogus number in spite of what President O’Bama, Nancy Pelosi, and Hillary Clinton say. Nancy Pelosi cannot be trusted to get a simple story straight about when she was briefed—or not briefed; or misled, lied to, and bamboozled—by the CIA. If the woman cannot get a simple story like that straight, how in world did she get to be Speaker of the House? Anyway, all three of them toss around the number of plus/minus 47 million without insurance in the United States. Isn’t that awful? Well, no and that is for a number of valid reasons.

In 2006, the Census Bureau “reported that there were 46.6 million people without health insurance.”[4] So at least we know where the numbers come from. The next logical question is to ask: are these numbers reliable, accurate? Do you remember that then-Senator O’Bama campaigned on the right for everyone in America to get universal health care? He did and that number included all those in this country illegally. Now if Americans were to deny health care to those here illegally (known in the kinder, gentler PC world as “undocumented workers”) that number would drop by about 12 million, which is a substantial number. We also know that there are about 17 million more who lived in households that earn more than $50,000 per year who, for whatever reason, do not want health care. It’s a free country and they can make that choice. No problem. Nevertheless, they comprise 17 million people. Bang, Bang. Now the total number of uninsured in America has dropped precipitously by 29 million warm bodies.

Another large chunk of the 47 million comprise the eighteen to thirty-four age bracket and believe they’re healthy, if not indestructible, and have opted out of health care. They would prefer to spend their discretionary income on drugs, X-boxes, video games, DVDs, movies, clothes, and the like. Another group are those unemployed, but the caveat is that 50%, which is almost half, got jobs and health care within four months of the survey. So why don’t Mr. O’Bama, Ms. Clinton, and The Confused One, Nancy Pelosi, tell us these facts. Rest assured they know them—perhaps Ms. Pelosi heard them, but wasn’t certain what they really meant. And if the CIA gave them to her, we all know that they intentionally misled her.

Since our President is insisting that we include the illegal aliens in the mix, our limited supply of doctors and nurses will have to contend with a sharp increase in patient load in the future. So, once again, here is how things work in the real world: “The only way to save money on the scale projected is to ration healthcare services.”[5] But our meds will be free! someone might object. No, not really. By this time, adults should be keenly and acutely aware that there’s no such thing as a free anything and if something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. In the very least, it’s not nearly all that was promised. Universal health care is a system that simply cannot deliver what it initially promises.

Allow me to give you a couple of examples. “Forty-four percent of the drugs approved by the Canadian health authorities for use in their country are not allowed by the healthcare system due to their high cost.”[6] In addition, “Obama’s pretension that nobody will find change in his or her current health insurance plans except for a magical reduction in their cost by $2,500 a year is a fool’s proposition.”[7] Why is this a ruse? The answer is to be found by looking at the health care management systems of other countries. Generally, here is the way things shake out. Insurance plans are governed and managed “by government healthcare planners who will approve treatments, limit drug use, hold down medical incomes and bring their cost-cutting programs to bear. Inevitably, their ax will fall on the oldest and the sickest among us.”[8] The net result of all the promises will be that “A crucial part of our quality of life—the best healthcare in the world—will be gone forever.”[9]

If you don’t believe me, Bill Gairdner, or Dick Morris, let me refer you to the Canadian Fraser Institute’s (www.fraserinstitute.org) “Waiting Your Turn. Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada (2008 Report, 18th Edition). The study documents the extent to which queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures are being used to control health care expenses. The report chronicles that the average waiting period in Canada for a CT scan is approximately five weeks. Moreover, “the total wait time remains high, both historically and internationally. Compared to 1993, waiting time in 2008 is 86 percent longer.”[10] In 1994, long after Canada’s system was in place and up and running, “Statistics Canada showed that over one million Canadians felt that they needed care but did not receive it, and that approximately 30 percent of these people were in moderate or severe pain.”[11] Just a few years later (2000-2001), “Statistics Canada data showed that an estimated 4.3 million Canadians had difficulties obtaining routine care, health information or advice, immediate care for minor health issues, and other first contact services, and approximately 1.4 million Canadians had difficulties gaining access to specialist visits, non-emergency surgery, and selected diagnostic tests.”[12]

Canada has attempted to remedy their problems by spending more (taxpayer dollars) on health care, but with undesirable results. A study from 2000-2003 “found that increased spending was actually correlated with increases in waiting times unless those increases in spending were targeted to physicians or pharmaceuticals.”[13] This truth led the researchers of this Report to conclude: “This grim portrait is the legacy of a medical system offering low expectations cloaked in lofty rhetoric” and “the promise of the Canadian health care system is not being realized.”[14] Is this what Americans want, because this is precisely what Mr. O’Bama wants to give us? Our health system is currently the best in the world. If the U.S. goes the route of socialized medicine there will be no country where those in lousy health care systems can flee to get treated, illegal aliens will be in the endless queues before Americans, and we will be forced to participate in something we do not want, constituting the loss of yet another freedom.


[1] Dick Morris, “Death of U.S. Healthcare,” (TheHill.com) May 12, 2009, p. 1.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Larry Elder, “Newsweek to America: Stop dreaming,” (www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/elder060205.asp), p. 4.

[4] Mark Levin, Liberty and Tyranny, (NY: Threshold, 2009), p. 107.

[5] Morris, “Death of U.S. Healthcare,” 1.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 1-2.

[8] Ibid., 2.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Nadeem Esmail, Maureen Hazel, & Michael Walker, “Waiting Your Turn. Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada,” 2008 Report (18th Edition), www.fraserinstitute.org, p. 7.

[11] Ibid., 10.

[12] Ibid., 11.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid., 7.



Labels:

22 Comments:

Blogger Jhonsun said...

Doctor shortages are also a problem in Japan and Australia where the systems have been nationalized/socialized. The only thing that the governments can do to combat the serious disincentives they created for anyone to enter the profession is to spend more public money to try and attract them. In the end, if they are even able to bring up the number of doctors to the levels they would be at in a more free system, they will have spent much more money in order to accomplish it. In the end, with all of the increases (to attempt to bring the system back to "mediocre") the only thing you've really bought is more government control and less freedom for doctors or patients. This is not an argument for our current health system either.

12:34 PM  
Blogger randy buist said...

* Doctor shortages in America are partly the result of Universities limiting the number of medical students they accept each year.

** Many of our surgeons make a million or two or five a year. Maybe this is a bit excessive. Doctors are getting into the business as a means of making large amounts of money. Perhaps their motives in a free market system are not so pure all of the time.

*** The U.S. infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the world among first world nations.

**** So ironic that a country that prides itself on creating better products and better systems has resided to only a mediocre system. Why can't we expect more from the brightest minds in our nation? Our health care system has SO MUCH that could be improved regardless of how good we think it currently is... yet, it seems that we are either content with the 'best' as it exists or scared to death of socialized medicine. What gives?

6:42 PM  
Blogger wordsmith said...

Mr. Buist left out a little perspective on the "the US has the highest infant mortality among first world nations" line; namely (from US News & World Report, 2006):

"The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless. And some countries don't reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth. Thus, the United States is sure to report higher infant mortality rates."In other words, the US appears to have a higher infant mortality rate compared to other countries because it is more aggressive about preserving the lives of extreme preemies.

Nice try, but no cigar.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Jhonsun said...

Randy,

To all of your points (except for #3) I would say that we don't currently have a free-market system - especially not in health care where the market is constantly distorted by price controls and bureaucratic regulations that interfere with the patient/doctor relationship (yes, even with regards to compensation). It makes and keeps prices high and patient/doctor discretion is hamstrung.

Motives are not the primary concern to me for why someone chooses to become a doctor so long as they do a good job and as long as there is no price-fixing, a real free-market will set a price for services (which in the past were much lower than today's negotiated costs) that are by definition considered mutually beneficial.

Most doctors graduate from medical school with student debt equivalent to a mortgage (but without a house to show for it), also a consequence of government intervention (where subsidies for education create a moral hazard that keeps universities from lowering their costs). It can take a decade to pay them off. Profit margins in the PCP practice, for instance, are very slim once you factor in office staff, malpractice insurance, etc. to the extent that even a 2% tax (one of Schwartzenneger's misguided plans that fell by the wayside) is a total game-changer for them.

You cannot blame the free-market for this mess because it doesn't exist. We don't make the best products because govt. regulations keep us perpetually uncompetitive - China makes "our" products and then loans us money to purchase them. I don't like our health care system because it is half-socialized already. More socialization is not the solution.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy probably ascribes the housing debacle to the free market and greed too, which, of course, it is not. I have no idea where Randy gets his stats, but I suppose it's from the Buist Institute for Advanced Social Gospel Studies. I know quite a few surgeons and not one of them makes $5 million a year or even $1 million.
But apart from that, universities still have "standards" for admitting medical students. So, yes, they discriminate in the good sense. Yes, there is still a type of good discrimination in our government universities.
In terms of the infant mortality stats, one has to wonder if the number of aborted infants is included in that number. But it raises an interesting point that if the US has such a lousy health care system, why is it that people from other countries flock here for medical procedures.
I hold out the same thing for you and your liberal emergent tribe, Randy: Go to Holland and live under the socialized medicine there for ten years and then come back and tell us how stellar it is. For you, O'Bama, Pelosi, Reid, Biden, Wallis, and McLaren it is all theory. I'm giving you facts in these installments. You would do very well to learn from them and not to think that you have "arrived."

8:14 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

I always thought Christians weren't supposed to judge motivations.

8:14 AM  
Blogger randy buist said...

Ron,

For all of your facts, you seem to understand the free market system REALLY well. How many businesses have you owned in your lifetime? Perhaps the free-market system is more unjust, dishonest, and tilted against ordinary people than you realize? Perhaps people with money and power are more depraved than you realize.

Perhaps sitting on a board of a small business or being on the management team of a business would give you a different perspective on our God-given free market system.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
Now you're just being very unfair. It isn't right to throw stones at people like President O'Bama, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and me for never having run a business. If none of us have run a business, how can we know if Socialism is good or if capitalism is bad? No one has any experience.
No, the free market system works just fine. If you're a Keynesian, just say so. It's still a free country.
For the record, I also still hold to total depravity; you know, like McLaren and Wallis. Are you really so naive that you don't think Socialism is tilted, as you put it, against ordinary people? I believe that people with money and power are depraved as are people without money and power. You're not going to argue, are you, that the poor are less spiritually radically corrupt than the rich?

8:14 PM  
Blogger randy buist said...

Yea, i may argue that the wealthy are more spiritually corrupt. I've seen the free market system from the board room and from the insides of corporate america.

money and only money motivates large corporate america. family and friends and loyalty and hard work and honesty and integrity mean nothing to those who run the corporations of the world. nothing. only bottom dollars matter. nothing else.

the poor take care of their own. the poor don't forsake their children and families for fortunes and fame.

there were reasons that Christ warned about the great difficulty for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. it wasn't his error that suggested this.

and corporations may not be worse than american socialism, but they certainly are no better... at least the hopes of our president are pure regardless of the outcomes.

the great american project is in much danger now that large corporations and people with power and money have left all honorable values behind.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Jim W said...

"The poor take care of their own. the poor don't forsake their children and families for fortunes and fame."
Are you really that stupid, Randy? And yes, I do mean to be just as harsh as that sounds. Out of all the stupid things I've seen you write, that pretty much takes the grand prize. I won't even bother trying to show the evidence of how wrong you are. It would take too long. Besides, you have proven to be utterly blind to facts.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
I must admit that your last post was about the most distorted and wrongheaded approach to business, wealth, and poverty I have ever read. You need to readjust and get a more realistic perspective.
Even if your experience is true, that certainly does not mean that it applies across the board. There are bad capitalists and there are bad socialists. That's not being argued. Re-read the post and hear what those who live under socialized medicine are saying.
No one is asking you to like what they say, but I would like for you to interact with the facts rather than retreating to you experience. That might wash in emergent circles, but it doesn't in the real world.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Jhonsun said...

Randy,

Most of your criticisms against big corporations miss the fact that many of the unjust things that they do is precisely because of their relation to and influence of government. It's called corporatism and is about as opposite of a free-market as you can get since it causes regulations and legislation that bring price distortions, suppression of competition, cartelization of industries, and loss of freedoms and civil liberties. It also tends to cause a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich (see the current economic crisis and bank(er) bailouts). It is much closer to fascism or socialism than it is to capitalism.

And before you give a "Republicans are the party of big-business" argument, consider that over the last several election cycles (going back as far as 2000), large corporate donations to the Democratic Party have been equal to or greater in dollar amount than to The Republican Party.

The point is, none of this is possible without government using coercive force on behalf of corporations who lobby them. Once again - not the free market.

I recommend the (free) book 'Economics in One Lesson' by Henry Hazlitt for an exposition of what a real free-market economy looks like (this book is a classic, BTW), the book 'Meltdown' by Thomas Woods for an up-to-date look at the current crisis (which Obama thinks can be solved by universal healthcare?), and 'The Revolution' by Ron Paul.

By the way, there are very well known social examples of the poor abandoning their families and it's not just an American phenomenon either.

12:29 AM  
Blogger randy buist said...

Capitalism ultimately means making money. Apart from any ethic, it is about nothing else.

To believe that the top executives of most corporations care about anything else is nuts. Our free market system demands the dollar is god. Executives are graded almost exclusively on the stock prices of their corporation.

Customer relations, treatment of employees, honesty and integrity, are not included in the grading system of our free-market system. Only stock values are graded.

To believe that government intervention creates selfishness is... let's remember total depravity. Government regulations does not create total depravity. Sin does. And a lack of regulation allows for endless selfishness.

7:47 AM  
Blogger randy buist said...

For all of the banter against another sort of health care system, I would have thought free-market capitalists could have created something better.

Creating something better out of what already exists has always been the hallmark of American ingenuity. So, why are we so opposed to some ingenuity when it comes to health care?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Jhonsun said...

Randy,

If I have the time, I'll have more to say about how you seem to argue right past everybody. If you read my posts again, you might find a little bit more agreement than you initially detected. Until then, I think this a good response to the spirit of what you've written. Consider for yourself (especially given your point about depravity) whether it really matters if the source of greed and corruption makes it any better or worse. The idea of liberty and free-markets is that power is widely dispersed among multitudes of people - down to even the lowest levels (where people can even vote with their dollar). In a centralized government power, there is very little recourse against corruption and our leaders are just as depraved as anyone else.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A

2:28 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
Replicating systems that have failed repeatedly and miserably hardly constitutes ingenuity.

3:11 PM  
Blogger charles said...

Of interest, Grace Community Church elder and executive director of Grace to You, Phil Johnson, is a Baptistic Calvinist. This statement appears on his website: “Theologically, Phil is a committed Calvinist—with a decidedly Baptistic bent.” (Who is Phillip R. Johnson?) Even more interesting is this statement: “He...is a member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (FIRE).” The slogan of FIRE is “In essentials Unity, In non-essentials Liberty, in all things Charity.” (FIRE) Why is this interesting? FIRE’s slogan is nearly identical to the slogan of Phoenix Freemasonry! “It is the glory of Masonry to teach Unity in essentials, Liberty in details, Charity in all things; and by this sign its spirit must at last prevail.”

http://www.watch.pair.com/macarthur.html

3:17 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Capitalism is ultimately about FREEDOM.
Capitalism acknowledges individual liberty, freedom of relationship, no coercion.

.Gov is the opposite. Someone telling you what to do, who you must have relationship with, agreement with force.
Charity at the point of a gun is not a Christian idea but is the essence of socialized medicicine, or any other socialized program.
It is INCOMPATIBLE with Christianity.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Here is what Congressman Ron Paul, M.D., has to say about .gov run health care.
http://www.house.gov/paul/index.shtml

11:18 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

Charles,

I know Phil Johnson. That has to be one of the stupidest things I have seen posted in a long time. Grace to You and freemasonry?

Poppycock!

11:52 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

I have variously heard that quote attributed to Melanchthon or Augustine.

It's been co-opted by many.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Charles,
I know Phil as well. He is a very good brother in the Lord. It is not correct to paint him with a Free Masonry brush. Phil is dedicated to serving the Lord and furthering the Kingdom.

10:35 PM  

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