Friday, December 3, 2010

Wonder Why It Costs So Much to Get Sick?

I have a friend from China who we are going to call Zhong Shan in this essay. He is compassionate, intelligent, and at 42 he’s going to sit for the medical boards in America.  Since he already has an M.D., PhD. From China, he’s going to do well on the exams and be a great doctor here. He will need to get a residency, but his great personality will help him.
In Pulaski, New York, they have a great doctor and he’s from Korea. He’s beloved in this totally white town near the Canadian border. He practices medicine in underserved areas, as will Zhong Shan.
It’s interesting how Medicine denies the basic law of supply and demand.  The more doctors, the more costs go up. Big cities have a lot of expensive doctors.
How can this happen? It’s very hard to get into medical schools and there are not enough of them, partly because the AMA has worked to restrict the number of doctors produced every year, driving up costs. States like California keep upping the cost of tuition, so people leave medical school with, perhaps, $200,000 in student loans. Can you afford to be a pediatrician or family doctor with that debt burden? I don’t think so.
The rule for a physician is that he has to have a procedure to make money, you have to be an orthopedist, heart surgeon, or as the most highly paid public employee in California is, a liver transplant specialist. To cut is to cure, as they say. It’s also a good way to pay off those loans. Dermatologists can concentrate on Botox or laser faces so folks can look young. That’s another good way to earn a buck. But being a family doctor or a pediatrician means you’ll take forever to pay off those loans. Even neurologists don’t make a lot, after four years undergraduate, four years medical school, 3 years residency and then specialty training.
To cut costs why doesn’t the government open more medical schools, make tuition low, so people can afford to take jobs where there aren’t enough doctors. People would respect you and you would be where you can form relationships with a society that’s appreciative you’re in South Dakota. Medicare is going broke and health care costs keep rising while the unemployed can’t afford to get sick. If the costs of student loans, plus an implied right to make a lot of money after toiling for twelve years  to be a specialist, were taken out of the equation, then maybe we wouldn’t be facing a health care Armageddon.

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