HMO Phobia: Quack Remedies for the Health Care "Crisis."

By Hazlett, Thomas W. | Reason, February 1999 | Go to article overview

HMO Phobia: Quack Remedies for the Health Care "Crisis."


Hazlett, Thomas W., Reason


Dr. Ken Smith has a mission: to destroy the HMO system which today enrolls 85 percent of insured Americans. The Boston-based physician's reasons are simple and humane: "We are for patients, not profits." And his disgust is real: "How dare somebody in some board room in Connecticut decide what I'm worth, and on a whim decide that my worth should be reduced?"

The elements of the current crusade against managed care combine the front-page horror story of the access-denied victim with the political clout of a network of influential millionaires. In swank country clubs all across the land, high-powered attorneys are burying the hatchet with prosperous physicians, getting beyond that little multibillion-dollar spat over medical malpractice. Now they're toasting martinis and swearing litigation against the common enemy: HMOs that clamp down on medical costs.

It may shock the good Dr. Smith, but many of the common folk are quite used to having distant big shots in faraway boardrooms establish the price for their labor. And as for the purity of spirit to which Smith appeals, we do appreciate the thought. But it's best to avoid any kind of competition regarding who's been more successful in bringing health care to the masses, the typical HMO shareholder vs. the typical M.D. After all, who is more likely to be recreating out on the golf course Wednesday afternoon?

The health care market is tricky, and the shadow under which all discussion takes place is the cost explosion tied to third-party payments. When Dr. Smith was perfectly free to prescribe for "his" patient and push the costs onto others - well, that was the Golden Age for doctors. And, coincidentally, 9.9 percent annual medical cost inflation (just to pick the peak year, 1991) for the rest of us.

Managed care stepped in - indeed, it arrived in an ambulance answering a 911 call from ratepayers. HMOs had a tough job to do, teaching lots of doctors with egos the size of Smith's that there ain't no such thing as a free surgical procedure. They have yet to succeed; a group Smith has helped to organize, The Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care, protests the "HMO bean counters" and advocates a single-payer system.

The reality is that the rationing that accompanies state-run systems makes the HMOs look like big spenders. That's not because the government hires better "bean counters." Quite the reverse - the beans sort of just disappear. And then it's, "Sorry, you'll just have to wait on that heart bypass until some more beans turn up."

Marc Roberts, a Harvard economist specializing in health care markets, claims that the doctors' real aim is "to regain status, power and income that they lost in this for-profit industry," and that holding the patient's welfare out as a bargaining chip is a smart stratagem. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

HMO Phobia: Quack Remedies for the Health Care "Crisis."
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.