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Health Care and Profit

The self-righteousness of those who proclaim that profit is the beast eating the health-care industry and that all would be wonderful if we could just remove profit from the system is both annoying and tedious.

It’s bad enough that they ignore the fact that the potential for profit is what entices investment and is the fundamental reason that our health-care R&D pipeline is so vibrant.

But it’s truly infuriating when such fulminations come from those working within the system. So far I haven’t heard of any who connect profit with their own take-home pay or who have taken a vow of poverty to make health care more affordable.

This was a response to one such diatribe which appeared as a letter in The New York Times. My response was not published.

20 November 2007

Dr. Thilo Weissflog, who identifies himself as a physician who “deal[s] with insurance companies and their reluctance to pay for indicated procedures or tests on an almost daily basis”, self-righteously proclaims that “Until profit is removed from the health insurance industry, we will unfortunately not see an end to these tragic stories.”

I expect, then, that he runs his practice strictly on a cost-reimbursement basis. After all, any money he or his staff take home at the end of the day to pay their mortgages or to feed their families or to buy cars and gizmos or to pay for entertainment — whatever money they take home to live their lives — comes from profit. And since profiting from medical practice is self-evidently bad he must righteously eschew it.

That is how it works, right?

(C) Copyright 2007, Augustus P. Lowell

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