'Cause I Said So…

Thought We Couldn’t Legislate Personal Morality?

Posted in Health Care, Health Care Reform, Medicine, Morality by kevinsoberg on March 15, 2010

I was having a discussion with a physician who’s on call at an Emergency Room, as a surgeon. We went back and forth over the different proposals, and I got him to admit that the Democrat’s plan was not ideal. However, he insisted that something has to be done to improve the current situation because of the hardship it causes doctors. He explained to me that Emergency Room physicians have to contend with the following situation:

1.  If a hospital receives federal Medicaid/ Medicare dollars, they must admit all patients, regardless of ability to pay.

2. Physicians must treat all patients.

3.  Physicians bill these patients separately from the hospital itself.

4.  If patient has no third-party payer (insurance, Medicaid or Medicare), then the doctor must attempt to recover fees on his own.

5.  Recovery rates are very low.

I was thinking to myself, “Man, is this a screwed up system of payment for the physician or what? He has no control over his client. No proof of ability to pay. Must take all comers. No compensation by the hospital. Must seek reimbursement himself. This is terrible.”

I couldn’t imagine an automotive shop operating under that model. The mechanic would have to do the work not knowing if the client was going to pay or not. If they didn’t, he was screwed. He ‘d then have to go after the client himself trying to get his money.

I began to commiserate with him. I was telling him what a terrible compensation model it was. My goodness, the law requires him to possibly work for free. Suddenly, he acted as if I had offended him in some way. He asked, “Do you think I treat these patients because the law requires it? I’m a DOCTOR! I took an oath to heal the sick. I’d see to these patients no matter what the law says.”

Suddenly a light bulb went off. He’s acting according to his conscience. He’s following his own moral code when he treats these possibly indigent patients. His personal reward is of no consequence in this situation.


What do you know? He turns out to be a another self-righteous prig. Don’t you dare tell me how selfless and moral you are. You want to take money from others by force of law to compensate you for the cost of practicing your morality. If it’s really that important to you, then just be happy for the deed you perform, no matter the price you pay.  Then, I’ll thank you for your avocation. Otherwise, quit whining.


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