One of the interesting moments in the CNN/Tea Party debate came when CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer pressed Ron Paul, who was a physician before he was a congressman, on what should happen to uninsured individuals who become ill. Asked Mr. Blitzer, "But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?" Dr. Paul responded, "No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals. And we've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. This whole idea, that's the reason the cost is so high. The cost is so high because they dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interests."
With impeccable timing, USA Today has an article this morning on the various ways that doctors are treating the uninsured. "Doctors are dispensing advice over the phone to save patients the cost of an office visit....Others provide care for free, or at a discount."
Roland Goertz, president of the 103,000-member American Academy of Family Physicians and a family doctor in Waco, Texas, says doctors across the country are lowering fees for some patients. The academy's latest national survey shows that "doctors are seeing eight patients per week at discounted or no cost," he says.
In other words, with less insurance, we might get lower health care costs, in part because patients are paying with their own money rather than an insurance company's money.