Monday, March 29, 2010

The incentives of private medicine favor the patient; the incentives of government health care favor the bureaucrats

How best to describe the difference between private medicine, in which we seek out, "hire," and pay our own doctors, on the one hand, and a government-run public clinic system, on the other? Here are a few words of wisdom from a man who knew both systems:

"In a private fee-for-service medical system, a dead patient is a revenue loss. In the National Health Service (UK), a dead patient was a cost savings."

So said the late Harry Bailey, MD.

Who was he?

The above quote is from my late father. He had a very unique perspective on the practice of medicine, especially as it relates to the various delivery systems. He was born and brought up in England and entered medical school there in 1950, training under the National Health Service and graduating in 1956. He emigrated to the US in 1957 and went into private practice for 24 years, 8 years pre-Medicare and the period after until 1981, becoming a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical school and a US Citizen along the way. In 1982 he decided he wanted to give something back to his adopted country in gratitude for the wonderful opportunities it had given him, so he joined the US Navy at age 52 and served first as the head of the Radiology residency program (27 residents and the largest program in the military) and then Chairman of the Radiology Department at the Balboa Naval Regional Medical Center in San Diego until his retirement at the rank of captain in 1991.

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