It’s no secret that one of the most controversial political debates going on the U.S. right now is over healthcare and how it should be distributed.  Regardless of your affiliation to one side of this debate it would seem that we are moving towards a system in which the government provides healthcare as part of its duty to citizens.  Many criticize this because of the excessive costs and inefficiencies with which the government might run the system, but a huge advantage has been overlooked and has been at the same time wasting precious resources for years.  I am talking about the practice of providing medical  care (and insurance) for doctors.

I hope this comes as a surprise to my readers, as willfully taking part in a system with such an egregious waste of waste of resources is abhorrent.  My butcher does not stroll into the shop of his rival every time he needs sausages, but instead provides them for himself.  So too, the idea of my doctor visiting another doctor for his medical needs is both wasteful and irresponsible.

Some statistics might be useful to better understand the degree of this offense.  In the U.S. there are some 954,000 doctors practicing medicine.  The average cost of healthcare per person in the U.S. is slightly more than $8,000 per person.  This means in a system of state provided healthcare, over $9 Billion would be spent annually to provide doctors with services they are capable of providing themselves at zero cost.

There’s more though, as medical care for a doctor used to take the time of two doctors (one as a patient, the other as the acting physician), but now one of those doctors has been freed up to work on patients who actually require the medical attention.  That means that we have alleviated another issue, which is the impending shortage of doctors in this country.

We can also expect to reduce the overall cost of medical insurance for the public by remedying this oversight.  Currently doctors pay large amounts of their income for medical insurance in case of a lawsuit from a client.  Doctors would never sue themselves for malpractice however, and thus there would be reductions in the cost of malpractice insurance to the degree of time a typical doctor spends on other doctors.  This dollar reduction would result in lowered healthcare costs overall, since the cost of malpractice insurance has been factored into the cost of healthcare overall.

On a related note, requiring doctors to provide themselves with healthcare also fixes an important flaw in the current incentive system for doctors.  Right now, doctors get medical care from other doctors and therefore are not concerned with providing good care.  Under this new system, a doctor would be directly affected by the quality of his or her own care and therefore have an incentive to be exceptional at their job at all times.  A “doctor’s doctor” is a term currently used to describe an excellent doctor because a doctor knows how to recognize excellent care, but by making each doctor their own doctor, we have affectively challenged every doctor to reach this rank.

In conclusion, it is time that we as a society stand up against a group of elites whom we have coddled for far too long. We have allowed doctors to take advantage of the kindness of society and asked next to nothing in return.  It is time we reminded the medical community of what they owe us, instead of being so accommodating to their delusions of what we owe them.


7 responses »

  1. Jordi says:

    Brillant! Can we apply it to lawyers too?

  2. Kate says:

    This seems like a great initiative! It’s both practically and economically efficient and our society’s general health care will greatly improve. I find it moronic that “qualified” doctors need to visit other doctors when they are ill. They all went to medical school and obtained the general knowledge to take care of themselves, why waste another doctor’s time? As you mentioned Jim, this would allow doctors more time to be available to their patients who actually need medical attention and it would reduce 9 billion dollars in healthcare cost. The job of those 954,000 practitioners is to take care of other people. Why can’t they take care of themselves?

  3. brookeparker16 says:

    I enjoyed this article because I can very much relate to it. I would even add that doctors should be required to take care of their own families, reducing costs and malpractice costs further. I can speak to this because there has been many times I came home from school when my doctor dad was waiting with a needle in his hand to give me a shot. Even more I never go to the doctor’s, I just call dad. Kudos on this idea!

  4. […] Shout out to “Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Doctors, But What They Can Do for Themselves…”–Jim […]

  5. Mike M says:

    I also find it an interesting idea to consider the savings possible by forcing doctors to treat themselves. I understand why they would not want to, but is there anything preventing them from treating themselves now? Or do they just choose not to? I also like how this proposal is not too crazy so is easier to imagine actually happening.

  6. […] Ask not what you can do for your doctors, but what they can do for themselves…( […]

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