This is the essence of modern-day liberalism. It is also a perfect illustration of why I want no part of it.
A 2011 report in Health Affairs concludes American doctors would have to take massive pay cuts to bring U.S. health care costs in line with Canada’s. The estimates are a 33 percent cut for primary care physicians…a 52 percent cut for most surgeons.
Vox’s Dylan Matthews apparently is just getting wind of the seven-year old survey. He tweeted support of its findings today. As part of his support, he admitted that the needed cuts in Doctor’s salaries would make it a hard sell. That didn’t seem to dissuade Matthews. He said, “That’s fine, they’ll live.” Hoo boy.
I love how he so cavalierly dismisses potential concerns from people who would face a 52% salary cut in order to make HIS dream some true. I can imagine his response if his salary were cut in half and the government told him, “You’ll live.” Things like this always sound better in the abstract than when they are applied to you. This applies to so many government mandates. The Golden Rule works.
And of course such a government fiat will have a MAJOR impact on the incentive model that motivates people to go through years of post-secondary education and training before they can even become doctors. The best and brightest will turn to other professions that will offer rewards that better reflect their intelligence and work ethic.
And in a breathtaking misunderstanding of how these things work, Matthews ignores what ELSE will have to happen to make his wet dream of Canadian Health Care costs in the US come true. Doctor’s salaries are not going to be enough. Imagine cutting nurses pay 33%. Or Medical Technicians. Or PAs. Now think of all the staffers like secretaries and administrators who will be impacted by the inevitable trickle-down. I think every one of us knows non-doctors who are gainfully employed in the Health Care industry. Try convincing them that slashing their pay by a third for “the common good” is something they could get behind. Be prepared for a sharp response.
And of course that assumes they will keep their jobs at all. Do you think doctors taking a 52% pay cut would not try and deal with that by means of staffing levels? Do you think hospitals will be able to maintain staffing pay at current levels, with a 40% cut in reimbursements? How many hospitals in rural areas who are already operating on tight profit margins would be able to survive that? Of course that means the government would offer subsidies. How would they obtain the money for those subsidies? Three guess and the first two don’t count.
One crucial necessity to believing that all of this is a good idea is that you MUST believe the services medical professionals provide are a “right.” Bad news, boys and girls. Anything that has to be provided to you is not a right. Anything that can be taken away is not a right.
But let’s not lose our focus here. The entire premise of this rant is to bemoan the unadulterated hubris that is required for someone to think that it is no big deal for another person’s income to be cut in half so long as that helps pay for the “Common Good.” I could not imagine thinking such a thing. I’m not sure if I could live with myself if a social program I coveted caused some people’s salaries to be slashed in half. Then again, I am not an asshole who thinks I know how much other people should earn.
I want nothing other than market forces dictating how much doctors are paid. Period. End of story. The same goes for any other profession. There has never been a fairer determiner of one’s worth than a Free and Open market. And there never will be.