Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

First Do No Harm, Redux

The state is trying to shut down a New York City doctor’s ambitious plan to treat uninsured patients for around $1,000 a year.

Dr. John Muney offers his patients everything from mammograms to mole removal at his AMG Medical Group clinics, which operate in all five boroughs.

His patients agree to pay $79 a month for a year in return for unlimited office visits with a $10 co-pay.

But his plan landed him in the crosshairs of the state Insurance Department, which ordered him to drop his fixed-rate plan – which it claims is equivalent to an insurance policy.

Muney insists it is not insurance because it doesn’t cover anything that he can’t do in his offices, like complicated surgery. He points out his offices do not operate 24/7 so they can’t function like emergency rooms.

More. Dr. Muney’s idea is reminiscent of the minor health clinics Wal-Mart and CVS having been opening, though on a different scale.

People tend to think of the market as some kind of impersonal force (the ‘invisible hand’) pushing human beings around like pawns. The reality is that the market is millions of different people, each striving to improve their condition, exercising their creative potential, experimenting with different solutions to social problems. When one person hits on a better way to deal with a problem, others can copy this solution to the benefit of society. There is no need for everyone to accept the same solution if their needs and circumstances differ, nor is there any need to stick with a current way of doing things should a better way come along.

Government, however, tends to impede this process, imposing a one size fits all solution on society, and trying to block new ways of doing things that don’t fit its preconceived structures. Before cite the failures of the current system as a justification for greater government involvement in health care, they might consider applying an ancient piece of medical advice to government action: first, do no harm.


March 27, 2009 - Posted by | Capitalism, Government, Health Care

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