Since 1910, when Republican William Taft gave in to the American Medical Association’s lobbying efforts, most administrations have passed new healthcare regulations. With each new law or set of new regulations, restrictions on the healthcare market went further, until at some point in the 1980s, people began to notice the cost of healthcare had skyrocketed.
This is not an accident. It’s by design.
As regulators allowed special interests to help design policy, everything from medical education to drugs became dominated by virtual monopolies that wouldn’t have otherwise existed if not for government’s notion that intervening in people’s lives is part of their job.
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But how did costs go up, and why didn’t this happen overnight?
It wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon restricted the supply of hospitals by requiring institutions to provide a certificate-of-need.
Just a couple years later, in 1974, the president also strengthened unions for hospital workers by boosting pension protections, which raise the cost for both those who run hospitals and taxpayers in cases of institutions that rely on government subsidies. This move also helped force doctors who once owned and ran their own hospitals to merge into provider monopolies. These, in turn, are often only able to keep their doors open with the help of government subsidies.
This artificial restriction on healthcare access had yet another harsh consequence: overworked doctors.
But they weren’t the first to feel the consequences hit home. As the number of hospitals and clinics became further restricted and the healthcare industry became obsessed with simple compliance, patients were the first to feel abandoned.
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According to Business Insider, the average doctor has thousands of patients, and each visit lasts less than 30 minutes. Prior to the government’s slow but absolute control of healthcare, the doctor listened to the patient — many old timers will confirm — even if they couldn’t afford it. Few were turned down. Now, doctors can hardly recall the conversations they have with the people they are supposed to be looking after.
As President Barack Obama pushed further restrictions on the insurance industry by touting his Affordable Care Act as a piece of legislation that would make insurance more affordable — ignoring that insurance isn’t the same as care — the overall cost of coverage also increased over the years. And as a result, a new group of independent healthcare professionals went on to ignite one of the most liberating revolutions in recent US history.
Direct Primary Care: Removing Artificial Restrictions from the Picture
Business Insider chronicles the story behind Dr. Bryan Hill’s practice.
As a pediatrician, Hill spent most of his life dealing with insurance companies. But one day after answering an impromptu house call, he decided he had had enough.
That’s when he learned about primary care clinics. These offices remain open by giving patients memberships in exchange for a monthly fee that covers most of what the average patient requires. As a result, the patient pays the doctor directly, and neither party is forced to navigate the complicated rules imposed by insurance companies.
In September 2016, Hill opened his practice in South Carolina, and he’s not planning on going back. But he’s just one of many. As ACA became increasingly suffocating to patients and providers, many doctors ditched the system altogether while others went into the primary care business.
On average, members of these direct primary care clinics pay as little as $60 per month, with couples paying about $150. Without having to handle heavily regulated middlemen, patients have a clearer picture of how much they spend on their health by being members of such practices. They also enjoy the peace of mind of knowing their doctor.
Studies have already demonstrated that when there is good communication between doctors and patients, treatments are more efficient. This is not simply because doctors are giving patients attention, but also because they are able to tailor a certain treatment to that patient’s lifestyle, health, and activities.
By removing the government entirely from the picture and allowing patients and doctors to once again deal directly with one another, the practice of embracing primary care helps to illustrate the importance of an individual and personalized approach to healthcare.
For governments and government bureaucrats, everything is dealt with from a collective perspective — after all, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
When government gets involved in healthcare, everything looks like another number, another statistic. But what bureaucrats fail to understand is that they do not possess all the answers. Only a doctor who is paying attention will be better able to help the individual patient — not a few thousand new regulations.
In essence, what this growing movement seems to suggest is that, even if doctors and patients are unaware of the interventionist forces driving the cost of doing business and receiving medical attention, they’re still driven into the open arms of the free market at some point or another. In the end, needs speak louder than ideology.