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So many lawyers, so little time...

"The prospect of hanging focuses the mind wonderfully"--Samuel Johnson

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Location: Louisville, KY, United States

Gastroenterologist, cyclist, cellist, Christian, husband, father, grandfather.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Puppies and doctors

My favorite doctor joke:
Q: What's the difference between puppies and doctors?

A: Puppies stop whining when they grow up.

My corollary:

Never, ever hang around the doctors lounge when you are already depressed.

Which is exactly the mistake I made this weekend.

The whining now has taken on a sense of desperation and anger. Doctors are small business owners and we've seen the health insurance rates for our employees (which we pay) go up 20% a year. The same insurance companies have cut our reimbursements as much as 30% over the past two years. When we read about the CEO of one of our major health insurance companies getting a $42 million yearly bonus, our mood is not dissimilar to the peasants before they rose up and got rid of the Czar.

Which is also why many American doctors are thinking the unthinkable: socialized medicine. Traditionally we would hope to be in a single party payer system as much as we would hope to come down with gonorrhea. Those days are coming to an end.

In the lounge a neurosurgeon assumes the role of the Oracle. "I came to America because I could never get any OR time in Canada", he says. "I was always having my cases cancelled at the last minute because of some emergency coming in through the ER. But now I can't afford to make the malpractice payments of $150,000 a year unless I work so hard I never see my family. Now if I were in Canada and had my cases cancelled, I'd just go home early that day. In fact, if it wasn't for the 55% tax bracket they have back in Canada, I'd be gone in a heartbeat".


Blogger Chris Tune said...

Wouldn't it be possible for a great number of physicians to band together and "create" a health care insurer. This would be very much like a "mutual" insurance company in that the physicians would be the owners and entitled to the profits. They would hire managers who are versed in running a health care insurer, and actuaries, etc. Then each of these physicians would also be included on the list of provider physicians.

Perhaps this list would also include non-owner doctors. But the real incentive to be a part of this entity would be that the doctor would recover a portion of the profit of the health care insurer. This would tend to eliminate the concern over the insurance company profiting at the expense of the physician.

Has anyone ever proposed such a business, to your knowledge.

I am an accountant and finance expert, but I've not done any real research on this yet, I just thought it might be interesting to bounce this off you first.

Chris Tune

12:38 AM  

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