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Doc's View of Free-Market Healthcare

By Alan Lyndon

In today’s L.A. Times, Dr. Daniel J. Stone, an internist in Beverly Hills, CA, gives his take on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

As is common in politics, particularly elections, candidates are quick to criticize opponents or incumbents, but they rarely give solutions.  In presidential elections, details are bad.  A candidate opens a big can of worms when they veer off message, which usually consists of beating down the other guy as opposed to offering a better way.

Dr. Stone points out that while Mitt Romney is quick to criticize PPACA and President Obama, he offers no solution to a convoluted health care system. “Romney never explained how the free market could help uninsured individuals,” says Dr. Stone, who describes a diabetic patient (Joyce) with no private insurance. “With her preexisting conditions, no insurer would take her even if she could afford the premium.” Here is Dr. Stone’s opinion of how a free market affects such patients:

“This week, for example, I received a reminder from my medical group’s pharmacist that Joyce’s cholesterol is too high despite the medication she takes to control it. The pharmacist recommended switching her to a more potent drug. But when I checked online, the cheapest local pharmacy I could find was charging $120 for a month’s worth of the recommended drug, versus $6 for her current one. I told the pharmacist that I would refill her current medicine and that we should recheck in three months to see if the price for the other had dropped. Should doctors really have to follow drug prices like market analysts in order to care for their patients? Welcome to the free market in healthcare.”

You can read the full opinion by Dr. Stone here.  What do you think?  What is the better system for you and your patients?  How will the Supreme Court decision affect your practice?  Let us know.

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