Lack of Freedom a Threat to Health
Periodically, somebody on the Left will throw in some anti-corporate rhetoric and sneer about the “free market.” Mark Patinkin’s column on the state’s difficulty attracting doctors provides yet another example illustrating that one can hardly point to our problems in condemnation of economic freedom:
I began by asking where he’d rank us nationally in fees paid for medical procedures.
“In many if not most areas,” he said, “it’s 49th or 50th in the country.”
The reasons are complicated, he said — one factor being restrictive laws.
What kind of laws?
He mentioned several typical procedures for which Medicare will pay a doctor around $300, almost below cost, he said. In some states, top doctors can charge an extra few hundred for patients happy to pay for their expertise. Here, as in Massachusetts, the law forbids that.
“In other businesses,” he said, “when you get seniority and experience, you raise your prices. I make the exact same fees as the doctor fresh out of residency. The only way I make more money than that doctor is by seeing more patients. I’m not allowed to charge more for procedures.”
Here’s a stunning bottom line for doctors:
He gave the real example of a 30-something cancer doctor who recently finished his training. His offer in Rhode Island was $125,000 with three weeks vacation and being on call every third night — being available for patient calls or going to the hospital. On the West Coast, The Doctor said, this same candidate was offered $250,000, eight weeks vacation and “call” every 10th night.
Rhode Island’s much touted (but selectively described) “quality of life” is surely threatened if our battle against the free market drives away high-end professionals.