I generally disapprove of the government using tax money to create incentives for people to do things the government wants them to do. That's why I support a flat tax, even though there are potential difficulties that might prevent the elimination of all current deductions.

Anyway, I was reading the provisions of the new Medicare law and one incentive struck me as particularly misplaced:

It will provide benefits for coordinated care for people with chronic illnesses, and will increase payments for doctors administering mammograms in hope that more are given.
It is perfectly proper for patients to factor in the cost of treatment when they're considering seeing a doctor or having a test. The problem here though is that this incentive is paid to doctors, who will presumably recommend more mammograms simply because they're paid more by the government to perform them! In a non-subsidized system, doctors would make profits by pricing their services to best take advantage of their patients' economic demand. However, when patients pay nothing for medical service, doctors can charge the government anything they want... which is why the payements allowed for certain procedures are limited by law.

By increasing payments to doctors for mammograms, Congress rightly expects that doctors will encourage more of their patients to have them performed, whether they're medically necessary or not. Thus, it's Congress who has made the medical decision, not a patients or doctors. This is exactly wrong, and it's an excellent example of why the government shouldn't be meddling in what should be private affairs.

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Michael writes a bit about a disturbing trend in the new healthcare plan: bribing doctors to perform mammograms on patients. This is just another good example of the "Nanny State" in action. There are enough women who don't prioritize their... Read More



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