Signs are pointing to a coming physician shortage in America. With the headaches that will bring, universal care should be the last hardship the government hangs around our necks.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that the "Demand for doctors is accelerating more rapidly than supply." The results will be and already are in some places frustrating: longer waiting periods to see physicians, particularly specialists; more trips to see a doctor; and decisions by many to simply forgo care.
Sounds a lot like Canada's nationalized health care system.
Canadian health care, held up by many as the model the U.S. should adopt, is a disaster largely because of the enormous demand it has created. Consequently, Canadians are suffering through a pandemic of poor health care at a time when technology should be helping them live much longer and healthier lives than could have been imagined a generation ago.
North of the border, unreasonably long waiting periods are the cause of much suffering even death. Drugs and modern medical equipment that most Americans take for granted are in short supply. Hospitals are overcrowded, and doctors and nurses, fed up with it all, are quitting.
Blame a system under which a third party (the government, using tax dollars), pays for health care, thereby stimulating demand. When someone else pays the bill, people will consume more health care than if they were paying for it themselves. This is common sense. With demand artificially ratcheted up, the system cannot provide enough services to keep up.
Such a system is unsustainable. So why force a similar one on the U.S. when there aren't enough doctors now to keep up with the growing demand for medical services?
Physician search firm Merritt, Hawkins & Associates says it already takes an average 24 days for U.S. patients to see a dermatologist for a routine skin cancer checkup. And that's in our biggest cities, not rural areas. Waiting times are similar for gynecologists (23 days) and cardiologists (19). Universal care will only make these and other waits longer.
America's doctor shortage doesn't lend itself to a public policy solution. It's largely demographic: As baby boomers retire in record numbers and likely get sick in record numbers as well doctors within the baby boom cohort also will be retiring. By 2020, the U.S. could be short 90,000 to 200,000 doctors, Merritt, Hawkins estimates.
That means even longer hours for younger doctors, at least those who haven't been run out of the profession by excessive malpractice insurance premiums fueled by outrageous malpractice lawsuits and jury awards.
Medical schools want to boost enrollment in response to the low supply. But as long as the financial incentives of the profession are clipped by sue-happy trial lawyers, runaway juries and obliging courts, the shortage is unlikely to self-correct.
What are you to do? Take health care into your own hands of course. Try homeopathic or nutritional supplementation. Thus, eliminating the expensive cost of health care, time needed to see a doctor and the overall problem of even getting sick.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take control of your health today. The health & wellness industry is expected to be a Trillion Dollar Industry by 2010. Supplementation use is growing and being fueled significantly by baby boomers. Now is the time to get on board the prevention and wellness industry.
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