The Scientific Activist

A Choice We Shouldn’t Have to Make

On Monday, Mike the Mad Biologist posted about the sheer idiocy of “choice-based health care,” which seems to be so en vogue today in the Republican party and elsewhere. He writes:

One of the most ridiculous ideas to come down the pike is the notion that most people, who are woefully ignorant of medicine and biology (e.g., the massive misunderstandings about antibiotics and infectious disease), will actually make intelligent decisions regarding their own healthcare. In fact, I bet most people would do worse than flipping a coin in many situations. That’s before you get to the roughly twenty percent who are functionally illiterate.

The nice thing about the world we live in today is that we have professionals who have slaved away for years… willingly… just to be able to make these decisions for us… so that we don’t have to! They’re called physicians. Division of labor is a beautiful thing.

I’m a biomedical scientist, and I certainly don’t consider myself qualified to determine the proper course of my own medical care. (Despite this, even members of my own family occasionally approach me with medical questions. Fortunately for me, the vast majority of this is deflected by my uncle, who is a real medical doctor–but unfortunately for him, I suppose). I don’t think I’m alone on this front, though, as even physicians themselves apparently have difficulty determining the proper course of their own medical care.

As a scientist (and as someone who once considered becoming a physician), I can’t help performing at least a little bit of basic research on the science behind medical issues facing me and my family. Of course, that’s the interesting part. But, now, apparently, I’m supposed to… no, sorry, I get to spend my rare but hard-earned free time feverishly studying a variety of variables to determine exactly what medical care I need and where I should seek it the next time I get sick (and, knowing me, I’m probably already deathly ill by the point I’m doing this anyway), all because the US stubbornly and solely resists transitioning to a modern universal health care system?

Count me out… if I have a choice.

Comments

  1. #1 Joshua Zelinsky
    October 24, 2007

    “the massive misunderstandings a out antibiotics and infectious disease” – “a out” should probably be “about”

  2. #2 Nick Anthis
    October 25, 2007

    That’s how it read in the original post, but I suppose we can infer Mike’s meaning here so I went ahead and changed it.

  3. #3 Mark P
    October 25, 2007

    I didn’t read the original post, but I agree that the whole idea is absurd. I recently fell off a ladder and tore my rotator cuff. According to the restupidlicans, I should have sent out requests for proposals to surgeons to repair it, and then to hospitals and anaesthesiologists, nursing staff and physical therapy clinics. Then I would have assessed their credentials, determined the best cost and then made offers. Oh, since I’m also not a physician, I suppose I should have started by sending out requests for proposals to medical consultants to do the whole process.

    When will a responsible politician stand up and say this idea is stupid? Oh, excuse me — “responsible politician?” — I don’t know what came over me. I must have fallen off a ladder.

  4. #4 Mike
    October 29, 2007

    I can understand that you do not want to have the freedom and liberty to make choices regarding the health care you receive. However, I can not understand why you would want a system that takes away the freedom and liberty of others. For example in Canada, it was a criminal act for a patient to pay a doctor to treat an illness.

  5. #5 Nick Anthis
    October 29, 2007

    Actually, that’s not even the half of it. Canada hates freedom more than anything else–so much so, in fact, that it’s my understanding that in Canada they terminate people before their 30th birthday. Not only that, but I’ve also heard rumors that the remains of these individuals even make it back into the food chain there. And, it’s all because of socialized medicine.

  6. #6 Mike
    October 30, 2007

    Nick,
    I commented with a fact and you reply with idiocy. I guess that is typical though.

  7. #7 Nick Anthis
    October 30, 2007

    I think they were about on the same level.

  8. #8 PJ
    November 2, 2007

    Mike, isn’t it only illegal to pay a doctor that is contracted with the state healthcare plan? I think the idea is to avoid double charging. You can still buy private services from doctors outside that system as far as I’m aware. So what is your point?

  9. #9 Ana
    November 2, 2007

    PJ is correct. In my province (Alberta, Canada), patients are allowed to opt out of the public system, and thus they would no longer have to pay provincial health care premiums have to pay for their medical treatment themselves (or get private insurance). However, this isn’t a very popular option and in 2007 only about 255 people (out of 3.3 million) chose to do so.

    Also, doctors can decide to not work in the public system. They can then practice privately and directly charge any patients they see (even if those patients haven’t opted out the public health system). However, doctors must choose to practice in private OR in public – they can’t do both.

    To complicate things more, not all medical treatment is covered by the provincial healthcare system (e.g. dental work, prescriptions when not in hospital, elective cosmetic surgery). So if you need plastic surgery for a medical reason it is covered, but if you want cosmetic surgery for non-medical reasons, then you pay for it yourself. No one will throw you in jail.

  10. #10 Himagain
    November 15, 2007

    “A choice we shouldn’t have to make”??
    How about a RIGHT we should all have?

    The key is simply whether individuals opt to exercise it or not.
    Simple example:
    Despite common belief/propaganda, most people in the direct access medical business are there for the money. Let’s be realistic just for a second, here.

    I should not have to pay for and drive a four-wheel monstrosity because other people do (for whatever reason). It’s nice to have a choice of a decently built vehicle that costs a fraction to run.
    As for relying on “Medical Advice” – I suggest a quick look at mortality rates in official statistics. Attending a hospital is far more dangerous than serving in any warzone.

    Finally, look at the atrocious lies perpetrated about life expectancy and style-of-life figures for the USA compared to almost any other country on earth.

    I object personally on behalf of the (admittedly few) people who are responsible for their actions and would like choices not dictated by a bureaucratic system of proven suspect worth.
    Again, do not be confused by the semantics or rhetoric here, anyone trusting their primary survival unwittingly to a system based entirely on maximisation of profit on both an individual and corporate level is actually a fool.
    I should be able to choose any modality I wish should I wish and certainly unless the West divests itself from the insane proliferation of the Drugs Cartel/s, there will be no choice at all, unless exceedingly rich, in the near future.
    requisat en pacem! :-)