There are a number of major problems with American health care, but no single problem is bigger or more important than the destruction of the relationship between doctors and their patients. The latest example of this involves insurance companies paying doctors to switch their patients from brand name drugs to generics. A Boston news story on this can be found here.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with generics, there is no question that the fact that insurers stand between doctors and their patients is a big part of the problem here. As I discuss in this article for the Albuquerque Tribune,
Employers contribute no tangible benefit to their employees’ health care that could not be provided without them, employers are little more than “middlemen” that stand between individuals and their insurance providers and doctors. Cutting out this unnecessary layer would give patients greater say over their insurance providers and plans, thus helping to restore the patient-doctor relationship that has become all-too-tenuous in recent years.
Adoption of President Bush’s proposal to give individuals the same tax benefits for health care as their employers get would be good way to start restoring the doctor-patient relationship. Unfortunately, the left seems to be obsessed with replacing insurance companies with government bureaucrats, a “solution” that is destined to only widen the gap between doctors and their patients.