While perusing my local South Florida newspaper, I happened to find an opinion piece written by Sally Pipes, the President, CEO, and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. Ms. Pipes’ article, “Obamacare may put end to doctor-patient relationship” states that the Affordable Care Act, i.e., “Obamacare” is putting an end to the traditional doctor-patient relationship, which she believes will lead to “assembly-line medicine” and impact the quality of patient care.
Some of her criticisms have been addressed in earlier blog posts, especially “Is Medical Tourism “Anti-Union?” where I mentioned that doctors are becoming salaried workers and may one day form a union and gain collective bargaining rights.
But what really caught my eye were the following comments she made:
Fortunately, Americans determined to receive personalized care aren’t without options. In addition to concierge practices, another tactic growing in popularity is medical tourism — traveling abroad for treatments and procedures, often at more affordable prices. This year, three-quarters of a million Americans will travel outside the country for non-urgent care.
The medical tourism group Patients Beyond Borders estimates that Americans can save 25 to 40 percent on their medical bills by traveling to Brazil. For Costa Rica, it’s 45 to 60 percent. And in Thailand, the savings can reach 70 percent.
So if she is right, and the ACA brings an end to the traditional doctor-patient relationship, wouldn’t that also affect the way injured workers receive care? So if Ms. Pipes is advocating patient choice in medical tourism for individuals seeking better medical care, shouldn’t that apply to workers’ compensation? Or are workers “undeserving” of such care?