Dr. Daniel F. Craviotto, A Doctor’s Declaration of Independence.
I don’t know about other physicians but I am tired—tired of the mandates, tired of outside interference, tired of anything that unnecessarily interferes with the way I practice medicine. No other profession would put up with this kind of scrutiny and coercion from outside forces. The legal profession would not. The labor unions would not. We as physicians continue to plod along and take care of our patients while those on the outside continue to intrude and interfere with the practice of medicine.
We could change the paradigm. We could as a group elect not to take any insurance, not to accept Medicare—many doctors are already taking these steps—and not to roll over time and time again. We have let nearly everyone trespass on the practice of medicine. Are we better for it? Has it improved quality? Do we have more of a voice at the table or less? Are we as physicians happier or more disgruntled then two years ago? Five years ago? Ten years ago?
At 58, I’ll likely be retired in 10 years along with most physicians of my generation. Once we’re gone, who will speak up for our profession and the individual physician in the trenches? The politicians? Our medical societies? Our hospital administrators? I think not. Now is the time for physicians to say enough is enough.
When I turned 65 four years ago I decided I would not accept Medicare. I didn’t want it because I have a very good doctor and I didn’t want him to have to treat me for the pittance that Medicare pays and to see me as adding to his burden of government paperwork. Alas, I learned that opting out of Medicare is not easy. With some effort you can do it, but you can’t quit Medicare and still receive Social Security benefits. It you’re out of Medicare you’re also out of Social Security. I considered it anyway. But I also remembered that I was forced to pay tens of thousands into that Ponzi scheme for 40 years and it seems only fair I get some of it back.
So I still have my doctor who accepts Medicare patients if they were with him before they became eligible for Medicare. I think he was paid about $38 for may last physical exam. I recently had a colonoscopy which I was able to view in progress on a video screen. As the camera snaked its way toward the end of its journey up my butt, the gastroenterologist exclaimed, “That is one impressive colon!” I guess I passed.
This doctor is not only an impressive comedian himself, he is one impressive doctor. I am chagrined and extremely grateful that he performed this potentially life saving function for me and got paid something like 20% of what he would have been paid by a patient in the free market and not subjecting him to the rigors of Medicare. In a free market transaction he would have made at least $1,000 for his service, whereas I think Medicare might pay him about $200. Considering the enormous capital costs he and his partners have incurred to have all the necessary equipment to deliver the services of a colonoscopy, a procedure that is miraculous for its potential to extend one’s life because of its ability to detect cancer while it is still curable, and also considering the many years of education and training, which he must maintain on a continuing basis, for him to have given me his time that day for a mere $200 qualifies him for sainthood. Government forced sainthood is a terrible thing, in my view.
NOTE: I’d have liked to pay my doctors additional amounts out of my own pocket. They can’t accept it because Medicare makes that a crime.
There are doctors that have opted out of this dreadful system and do not accept Medicare patients. While Medicare forces doctors to subsidize health care in general, overall savings in health care costs are not achieved. Medicare is a wasteful system that mainly benefits administrators and bureaucrats who themselves are not obligated to work for a pittance of their true economic worth. The doctors who have opted out are not only rebelling from being forced to lower their standard of living to remain in business, they are helping to establish a new system in which government will eventually lose its power to subjugate them. A brighter health care future in America will be achieved when every doctor in this country tells the Government to take its health care mandates and put them where the sun doesn’t shine.