Vecchio Video Series On ObamaCare

Mar 302012

Dr. Jill Vecchio, the head of the Colorado chapter of Docs4PatientCare (and a fellow radiologist!), has recorded an informative set of videos on ObamaCare and what it means to all Americans.

One important point: the current system is not a free-market but rather a mixed system with some free-market elements but also enormous amounts of government regulation. Forthcoming additional government controls to be imposed by ObamaCare will not solve our current problems but rather make them worse. In contrast, there are many good free-market reforms that would lower our costs and improve our health care quality.

Part 1 — Coverage:

Part 2 — Costs, section A:

Part 3 — Costs, section B:

Part 4 — Employers and Exchanges:

Part 5 — Doctors and Patients:

Part 6 — Constitutional Issues:

Part 7 — Real Health Care Reforms:

(Note: I don’t necessarily endorse every single point she makes, but overall I found these extremely informative. Cross-posted from FIRM.)

Hsieh PJM OpEd: Free Market Lessons from Contraception Fight

Mar 232012

Note from Diana: Sorry to be so late in posting this announcement! It’s all the fault of SnowCon!

PJMedia published my latest piece, “Free Market Lessons from Contraception Fight“.

I discuss how the controversy over contraception coverage has made apparent three lessons about America’s current health care system and why we need free-market health care reforms:

1) Health insurance should be uncoupled from employment.
2) Mandated benefits will become political footballs.
3) We must fight for freedom as a principle.

For more details on each of these three points, read the full piece.

100th Lucidicus Kit Awarded!

Feb 072012

I’m rather late in reposting this January 17th announcement from Jared Rhodes of The Lucidicus Project… but this milestone is fantastic, and I wanted to publicly applaud Jared’s work to promote free markets among our future doctors!

I’m proud to announce that today The Lucidicus Project hit a nice milestone: we’ve awarded our 100th kit! The 100th kit went to Alexander G., a third-year medical student at Boston University.

You can read about Alexander and all the other recipients here.

The Lucidicus Project is a student outreach program that I started in 2005. We give out a “self-defense kit” of books and essays to medical students who are interested in learning about the moral and economic case for capitalism in medicine.

I think it’s great that there is a popular movement brewing against Obamacare, but I believe it is absolutely critical to have doctors on board, too. We’re cultivating that by reaching out to tomorrow’s healthcare leaders–namely, medical students–while they are young and still open to new ideas.

Our next goal is to reach recipient number 200 a lot faster. I’d like to thank everyone who has donated or supported the project in the past in any way. And for anyone interested in doing so now, just go to Support The Center. Or, if you can’t help out financially, then just spreading the word online and offline is extremely helpful, too. You never know who is listening!


Jared Rhoads
Center for Objective Health Policy

Congratulations, Jared!

Hsieh PJM OpEd: The Truth About RomneyCare

Jan 102012

PJMedia has published my latest piece, “The Truth About RomneyCare“.

Here is the opening:

Now that Mitt Romney has shown himself politically vulnerable after Iowa, more people are taking a closer look at his claims about the “RomneyCare” health care plan he helped create as Massachusetts governor. In this interview from April 2010 which recently recirculated last month, Romney attempts to draw some distinctions (as well as acknowledge similarities) between his RomneyCare plan and the national ObamaCare plan.

One of the alleged virtues of RomneyCare over ObamaCare is that Romney’s plan does not contain “price controls,” whereas ObamaCare does. But how does this stack up against reality?

I then discuss several forms of price controls that have already been (or will soon be) implemented in Massachusetts, and their consequences.

(Read the full text of “The Truth About RomneyCare“.)

Hsieh: Who Will Your Doctor Work For Under ObamaCare?

Dec 302011

The 12/30/2011 has published my latest OpEd, “Who Will Your Doctor Work For Under ObamaCare?

The theme is that ObamaCare will pressure doctors to sacrifice their individual patients’ welfare for a collectivist concept of “social justice”.

Here is the opening:

Suppose you move to Las Vegas, and you hire a real estate agent to help you buy a house. She returns with several inappropriate choices — all too expensive and too far from your work. She explains, “I know these aren’t what you wanted. But you’d really help the struggling Nevada housing market by purchasing one of these.”

Most people would fire her on the spot. Your real estate agent has a professional obligation to look out for your individual interests, not some nebulous “Nevada housing market.” Yet under ObamaCare, your doctor will be increasingly pressured into sacrificing your individual medical interests for a nebulous “social justice”…

(Read the full text of “Who Will Your Doctor Work For Under ObamaCare?“)

I’d like to thank Diana for her assistance editing an early version of this piece.

I’d also like to thank Dr. Hal Scherz, Dan Rene, and Docs4PatientCare for helping to arrange its publication!

Real World Effects of ObamaCare

Dec 142011

One of my friends posted the following to Facebook, and she has graciously given me her permission to repost it here. She has asked that I refer to her as “Dr. Monica H.”:

In Which I Detail How Obamacare Will Work for Me

Currently, I am a college professor at 3 campuses in the Denver area. I prefer not having administrative duties and would rather focus on teaching and research. Until we move (this is complicated), finding a FT job isn’t likely, but I’m basically happy. I make what a full time faculty member makes, but that means I don’t get healthcare because my work is split at multiple institutions, 2 of them community colleges. So I am responsible for my own healthcare, but I am OK with that, since I don’t really use the traditional healthcare system for anything but very serious emergencies. I am not a big fan of medicine as it is practiced in this country, so I do most of my own lab testing and “alternative” treatment.

But never fear. My healthcare “problem” will be solved in 2014 when Obamacare kicks in. That’s because the college has been told by the Feds that they must provide community college instructors who work more than 3/4 time (that’s me) with health insurance. That would be me. I’m going to get health insurance! Yay, right?

How will the college respond to this? Likely by hiring more very part time instructors and taking work away from current instructors that teach nearly a full-time load. This is not speculation: I expect this to gradually be implemented over the coming 2 years, as detailed in an email I just received from the administration. This will be so they don’t have to pay the insurance mandated by the federal government. I won’t simply be able to spread out my work over 4-5 community colleges in response, because the new regulations apply to all community colleges in Colorado as a whole. In other words, the state won’t view, say, Front Range CC and CC of Denver as two separate institutions when it comes to health insurance. It will view them as one. That means instead of teaching 4-5 classes per semester, I’ll be limited to 1. The number of instructors will probably triple, depending on the department.

Yep, I’m sure on a salary 1/4 to 1/5 what I make now, I’ll be ever so capable of paying for mandated insurance! Thanks, Obama!

A very practical example of the types of unanticipated effects of such legislation. For those of you who wonder why I’m no longer all that excited about the government thinking it knows best for me and every aspect of my life, this is why.

First, I very much appreciate this sort of “in the trenches” real-world report of how ObamaCare is hurting Americans. I hope more of our elected officials take heed of what their policies are doing to their constituents.

Second, many on the Left actively want Americans to be frustrated with private insurance industry under ObamaCare. That way they can say, “See, we tried it the ‘free market’ way and it failed; that’s why we need a government ‘single-payer’ system”. (Of course, the failure would be due to government policies that destroyed the free market, not the free market itself.)

Finally, these perverse effects of ObamaCare will affect many people all across the economic spectrum by making it harder for employers to offer full-time jobs to willing employees. For more details, see the following from James Sherk of The Heritage Foundation: “Obamacare Will Price Less Skilled Workers Out of Full-Time Jobs“.

Here’s a critical image:

[Crossposted from FIRM blog.]

Hsieh PJM OpEd: Screening For Cancer vs. Screening For Terrorists

Dec 012011

The November 30, 2011 edition of PJMedia has published my latest OpEd, “Screening For Terrorists vs. Screening For Cancer“.

My theme is that the seemingly contradictory policies of the government of terrorist screening vs. cancer screening actually demonstrate a common theme.

Here is the opening:

As the holiday travel season approaches, millions of American air passengers will become painfully reacquainted with Transportation Security Agency (TSA) screening measures. Passengers must submit to either medically unnecessary X-rays or intrusive gropings.

Yet in the realm of health care the federal government has adopted a new policy of discouraging routine screening tests for many cancers. Although these two policies may seem superficially contradictory, they demonstrate an underlying common theme of the government seeking ever-greater control over our bodies and our freedom.

In particular:

Our government currently tells air travelers, “Submit to our screening despite the dubious effectiveness, bodily invasion, and needless emotional distress” while simultaneously telling patients, “Don’t undergo cancer screening because it might lead to further bodily invasion and emotional distress.”

Despite this seeming contradiction, in both cases the government is really saying, “We’ll decide who can do what with your body.” The American founding fathers would never have imagined that the federal government would someday presume to restrict citizens’ medical or travel freedoms in such a fashion.

(Read the full text of “Screening For Terrorists vs. Screening For Cancer“.)

Upcoming Rationing of Neurosurgery Services?

Nov 282011

Update: The website states that the American Association of Neurological Surgeons has investigated this issue and determined that anonymous caller was likely not a neurosurgeon and that the call “contained several factual inaccuracies”. More here.

Original Post

An Illinois neurosurgeon discusses upcoming new guidelines from the Obama administration restricting how doctors can deliver medical care.

A few key points with respect to neurosurgery procedures:

Patients over age 70 with government insurance will receive “comfort care”, but not the full range of aneurysm treatment, stroke therapy, etc.

Patients are referred to as “units”, not patients.

Various devices currently approved by the FDA for “humanitarian use” and widely regarded by surgeons as medically safe and appropriate for clinical use will likely have that approval withdrawn to save money.

According to this surgeon, this information is straight from Obama administration HHS officials, although not yet published.

The physician summarizes the issue quite nicely:

You know, we always joke around — ‘it’s not brain surgery’ — but I did nine years after medical school, I’ve been in training ten years, and now I have people who don’t know a thing about what I’m doing telling me when I can and can’t operate.

(Read the full blog post, “Neurosurgeon Briefed by HHS“. Link via @SonoDoc99.)

Anyone who’s read Atlas Shrugged will recognize the similarity between this surgeon’s observations and this quote from the fictional Dr. Hendricks (also a neurosurgeon):

Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I could not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward…

Many Americans (including my own and Diana’s parents) are over 70 years old yet in reasonably good health. They’d likely be denied life-saving neurosurgical care in the near future if these guidelines take effect.

But just don’t call it rationing.

[Crossposted from the FIRM blog.]

Hsieh TU OpEd: Don’t Blame Capitalism For High Health Insurance Costs

Oct 062011

On 10/4/2011, The Undercurrent published my latest OpEd, “Don’t Blame Capitalism for High Health Insurance Costs“.

My theme is that rising health insurance costs are due to statism, not the free market. Here is the opening:

Suppose Congress passed a law requiring that all restaurant meals include broccoli and okra, whether the customer wanted them or not. Restaurants must also charge the same price for all meals, regardless of whether the customer ordered a small salad or a large steak. And they must serve free meals to children up to age 26 whenever their parents purchased a meal.

As meal prices rose, most Americans would understand that this was caused by the government regulations, not the free market. Today, similar laws are driving up the price of health insurance — and it’s equally important not to unfairly blame capitalism for the problems caused by the government.

(Read the full text of “Don’t Blame Capitalism for High Health Insurance Costs“.)

I’m glad The Undercurrent published this to coincide with their Capitalism Awareness Week project. You can still watch some of their earlier lectures and debates held this past week at college campuses across the country.

Many thanks to Noah Stahl and Ben Bayer for their helpful editorial suggestions. For more on The Undercurrent, check out their website.

Armstrong on Health Insurance and Personal Responsibility

Sep 262011

The 9/24/2011 edition of PajamasMedia published Ari Armstrong’s OpEd, “Health Insurance and Personal Responsibility“.

Armstrong discusses the question asked by Wolf Blitzer to candidate Ron Paul in a recent GOP debate on who should pay for the health care of “a healthy 30-year-old young man [who] has a good job, makes a good living” but deliberately decides not to carry health insurance.

Although Blitzer framed the question as a false alternative between “society” paying for his care vs. “letting him die”, Armstrong digs more deeply into issues of personal responsibility. In essence, if someone is able to pay for his own health insurance but chooses not to and instead “goes bare” on the risk, he should be help responsible for the bill (even if it might require a payment plan over time).

Armstrong then makes an important point:

But what about somebody who develops expensive health problems and truly cannot afford to pay? In those cases, hospitals and voluntary charity organizations remain free to step in and cover some or all of the costs.

Blitzer talks about “society” letting someone die, but whom does he mean? Each individual is part of society, so isn’t the real question, “What are YOU going to do about it?” Treating “society” as some super-entity above and beyond the individuals who compose it causes two problems. First, it gives individuals an excuse to do nothing by their own initiative; second, it encourages many to ignore the actual victims of politicians’ forced wealth transfer schemes.

This is a critical observation. Too much of current politics mistakenly reifies “society” as something above and beyond the individuals that compose it. This makes it too easy for politicians to propose policies which sacrifice individuals to a nebulous “collective good”. Our numerous current political and economic problems are the consequence of this error.

The only way out of this trap is to recognize the primacy of the individual as the proper unit of political thinking, and to recognize that the proper function of government is to protect individual rights. Fortunately, more and more Americans are become aware that this is the critical issue.

Finally, Armstrong notes the following:

The deeper problem, the real reason a healthy 30 year old grows tempted to forgo health insurance, is that politicians have made the costs of health care and insurance ludicrously expensive.

Through destructive tax policies, the federal government linked health insurance to employment and encouraged the use of “insurance” for routine, every-day costs rather than for true emergencies. As a consequence, consumers have almost no incentive to seek economical care, and a considerable portion of each health dollar goes to insurance paperwork rather than actual care.

Today’s politicians have taken dramatic action to turn health insurance into a gigantic wealth transfer scheme. That, indeed, is the entire premise behind the ObamaCare “mandate”; people must be forced to buy insurance because its artificially high costs subsidize the care of others. Consider, for example, the recent mandate from Health and Human Services that forces the insured who don’t need birth control to pay for the birth control of others.

If we dismantled the federal controls over health care and moved toward a free market, that would put patients back in control of their health care, help contain costs, make insurance affordable again, empower more people to manage their health care costs, and ease the burdens on voluntary charity.

Armstrong’s analysis is spot-on. It’s not too late to reverse course, repeal ObamaCare, and move in the direction of genuine free-market health care reforms.

(Read the full text of “Health Insurance and Personal Responsibility“.)

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