Prepare for healthcare rationing

In the 1990s, a lot of research proved the effectiveness–and cost-effectiveness–of natural remedies. And complementary and alternative therapies as well.

But, as I wrote in an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 1998, we don’t have nearly enough doctors to provide these alternative options.

There are presently about 700,000 physicians in the U.S. And the numbers for complementary medicine are far lower. In fact, there are only about 7,000 licensed naturopathic physicians in this country, for example.

While they fiddle with healthcare, the government must realize that between 1996 and 1997, about 47,000 students applied to medical school. But between 2011 and 2012, after increasing for decades, the number dropped to about 44,000. Plus, the actual graduation rate only increased by an average of 0.3 percent over the past 30 years.

In the meantime, Obamacare mandates that all Americans become healthcare consumers. Whether they want to or not.

So, in just a few years, 30 million more Americans will have healthcare.

But who will treat them?

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there will be a shortage of 63,000 doctors by 2015. And by 2025, that number will more than double to 130,600.

It used to be that our country’s best and brightest students went to medical school. But today, many of these students don’t want to spend a dozen years in expensive training. Only to end up as quasi-government employees. So they never apply to medical school. They choose other paths.

And this will hurt patient care.

So if you ever get really sick, you will have to wait even longer for the care you need.

In other words, we will have “health care rationing.”

That’s what my professor and mentor, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, called it. Dr. Koop just died last February at the age of 87. And he warned us about this 30 years ago.

While Dr. Koop served as Surgeon General, advocates of government health care pointed to Canada as an example. Canada also faces a shortage of doctors. And they do alright with government healthcare, the advocates argued.

That’s fine, except for a couple of things…

Canada has about one-tenth the population of the U.S. And about half of the Canadian population lives within a one or two-hour drive of the U.S. border.

The Canadian healthcare system is based on planned scarcity. They get away with fewer doctors for one reason. And one reason alone. Many Canadians who don’t want to wait for healthcare services–or who don’t want to be denied altogether–can just travel to the U.S. And they become our problem.

Dr. Koop said, if we base the U.S. healthcare system on the Canadian model and use that logic, we had better start looking for quality health care in Tijuana, Mexico.