Spying on Doctors

The Obama administration appears prepared to “mystery shop” doctors. In other words, they will lie about their identity and purposes as they fake needing medical care. Seems they are worried about the demise of the family doctor.

Mystery shopping is no crime when it is done by a private entity. For example, K-Mart might send people to see why WalMart is so successful or a coffee shop owner might have an employee order a double-tall soy latte at a competitor to gauge their product quality. When it is done by the government, though, one wonders about its legitimacy and the motives behind it.

Part of the proposed “research” is to see if doctors are more reluctant to accept patients on government insurance programs, which pay less than private insurance programs. Call me a cynic, but that sounds like a great first step toward requiring doctors to accept patients on the terms determined by the government. Can you say “single-payer?” I thought you could.

Doctors work for years to acquire the skills needed to ply their trade. In return, they are treated as if they were apples lying upon the ground to be snatched up by the first needy passerby. Overloaded with patients and beset by mounds of paper (now computer) work, the general practitioner is becoming like the elementary school teacher–a person whose sincere desire to help is smothered by the requirements of bureaucratic know-it-alls. And Obama wonders why doctors are scarce.

Doctors have no obligation whatsoever, save their own moral compass, to treat anyone on terms other than their own, the Kennedy/Clinton (Hillary)/Obama triad notwithstanding. We are reaping what we have sown–a scarcity borne of presumption, the presumption that the needs of the sick dictate the terms that the doctor must abide by.

Laid out in its shallowest form, the argument of the government-care Left seems to have merit. Who would deny poor (Sally, Bob, Jane, Alfonso) medical attention? Of course, this is a pernicious illusion, as if the doctor simply appeared in the same way wild apples do. We have plenty of apples because we plant apple trees. We give them an environment conducive to growth and we take care that when one dies, we replace it. While it may make moral sense not to deny an apple to a starving soul, it does not follow that everyone owns all apple trees. If it did, we would not be surprised to find a shortage of apples. Why plant and nurture one if the produce will be confiscated by someone else?

Our unwillingness to see how our good intentions run contrary to our real purpose will be our undoing. The Left and its apologists for government care think no deeper than the sad case at hand, never bothering to ask how doctors come to be or why they choose various modes of practice. For every perceived injustice, real or imagined, there is always a “public” solution. Each proposal chokes more and more life out of the immeasurably noble science of healing.

And now we see the government willing to spy on doctors, not armed with a warrant to investigate a crime, but because they can’t figure out why fewer and fewer people want to practice medicine. Politician, heal thyself. It is you and the hordes of shallow-minded supporters behind you who think you can coerce healers to heal by your rules. No matter how many laws you make to control existing doctors, you cannot spy and threaten new ones into existence. Doctors are not your property; they are human beings who have the right to practice as they see fit. Call off the spies and have some apples. If it is true that they keep the doctor away, you are going to need them.

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About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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One Response to Spying on Doctors

  1. Pingback: Spying on Doctors: http://commonsenselib | Common Sense Liberty

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