Heath care is an expensive product, with high demand chasing limited supply. There are only so many doctors, and training new ones requires a long education at great personal expense. Meanwhile, advances in medicine are steadily prolonging life and improving its quality.
It follows that if we want to decrease the cost of health care (or, to use the currently popular political vernacular, “improve access”) we need more doctors. Conversely, reducing the supply of doctors would make medical care more expensive, and reduce its quality. If government controls are then applied to skyrocketing costs, shortages and rationing would be the inevitable result.
What will ObamaCare do to the supply of doctors? For the answer, we turn to a Heritage Foundation report on a new survey of the medical profession, which confirms the results of a previous survey from 2010. Doctors hate ObamaCare even more than the general public does, with 60 percent of respondents saying it will “have a negative impact on overall patient care,” but that’s not the worst of it:
The Doctors Company, which is the largest insurer of physician and surgeon medical liability in the nation, received more than 5,000 surveys, including all specialties and every region in the country. The results weren’t good for the President’s signature piece of legislation.
Not only do doctors believe that Obamacare will not improve the health care system, they also anticipate that it will worsen the current condition. According to the survey, nine out of 10 physicians are unwilling to recommend health care as a profession to a family member, and one primary care physician even commented, “I would not recommend becoming an M.D. to anyone.”
Obamacare doesn’t just discourage entrance into the medical profession; it encourages those who are already practicing to leave it. The survey states that “health care reform is motivating doctors to change their retirement timeline.” In fact, 43 percent of respondents said they are considering retiring within the next five years as a result of the law. A surgeon from Michigan wrote that under Obamacare, “We will be moving further away from humanity-based health care and more towards the patient as a commodity. This was not the way my father practiced—nor will I. Winding down to retire early.”
(Emphases mine.) This comes as the United States teeters “on the brink of a severe physician shortage,” with the American Association of Medical Colleges estimating that we’ll need 91,500 more doctors by 2020 to meet demand.
This is the sort of disastrous “side effect” that probably wasn’t included in the Congressional Budget Office’s already horrific estimate of ObamaCare’s exploding costs. It’s also damage that would not be easy to reverse. If ObamaCare is not repealed soon, the loss of doctors will ripple forward for years… and the necessity of tight “death panel” rationing of precious doctor time will be used as a club by Democrats to not only keep ObamaCare, but actually make it worse. Wait until the doctors of 2014 get a load of the tidal wave pouring into their offices to collect their mandated benefits… and look behind them to see an increasingly large army of stern bureaucrats dictating the fast-food practices necessary to keep the human cattle moving through those exam rooms.
Let’s hear Health and Human Cattle Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tell us some more about that private-sector “death spiral” ObamaCare was supposed to fix!