Central planning destroys health care innovation

I am a direct primary care (DPC) physician.  DPC doctors have determined ways to improve health care access, include telemedicine, and offer deeply discounted rates on medications, labs, and imaging for a low-cost monthly membership, similar in design and value to Costco.  If matched with appropriate health insurance coverage, DPC can save patients thousands of dollars annually compared to the current broken, highly inefficient system.

DPC is one of the most innovative areas of the current health care system for one reason: it is not part of the centrally controlled (socialized), government-managed system.  DPC doctors offer fantastic care, and they do so without the artificial restrictions imposed by governments and insurance companies, who exert significant power over the practice of medicine.

The freedom enjoyed by DPCs has provided them with the opportunity to innovate in creative ways to improve medical care and medical financing.  DPC doctors, along with free-market entrepreneurs, are competing to find solutions to the problems facing our health care system in ways the government/insurance-controlled system can't or won't.

This doesn't mean that free enterprise is easy.  Building my practice from the ground up was hard, risky, and stressful.  I had to save money to cover my expenses until the new practice grew to the point where it could be successful and self-sustaining.  I also needed to create a business plan, rent space, hire staff, market my new practice model, and jump over countless government-imposed hurdles.  Even after all the hard days and long nights of work, there was never a guarantee of success.

Being one of the doctors creating a new type of medical practice is unquestionably a difficult endeavor, but however challenging, I can't help but think how utterly impossible it would have been under a socialized health care system.  Under such a system, a doctor who wants to develop a new practice, innovative service, or a fancy new widget that could help patients wouldn't be able to do so relying on passion, talent, and hard work alone.  In a socialized model, innovation exists only if permission can be secured from that system's army of slow-moving, often uninvolved government bureaucrats and central planners, because individuals do not own the means of production in socialist systems.

Nothing about central planners makes them prescient, and history is full of examples of government agents failing to innovate, even when a solution was obvious.  Bureaucratic inability to grasp a new idea is never proof of its likelihood to fail.  Numerous culture-changing innovations were initially rejected by others.  For examples, see FedEx's Frederick Smith and Apple's Steve Jobs.

Expounding on this point, Jobs once said, "Our job is to figure out what they're [the public] going to want before they do," adding, "People don't know what they want until you show it to them."

One of the biggest problems with socialized systems is that government agents making decisions often have no knowledge of the industry they are regulating, and even when they do, they typically aren't the customers.  They don't know if a new gadget would make a farmer more productive, a TV thinner, or blood draws less painful.  How could they?  They would have to possess near omniscience to perceive all potential applications — applications that the end user (customer) often readily grasps.

How many existing innovative products and ideas would have died at the hands of bureaucrats, had they been in charge?  How many great ideas have already been snuffed out by regulators the world over?  How do you measure the loss of innovation that never occurred?

Because of such hurdles and the risks of challenging them, countless great ideas have likely died in socialist countries while the defeated whispered, "Why bother?"  We are all likely worse off because of it.  Imagine where our world would be if the creative potential of the millions who toiled under socialist regimes in the 20th century had been unleashed.

Embracing the way of innovation, entrepreneurship, and free enterprise isn't always easy, but give me the opportunity to improve the world while improving myself, and I'll take that any day of the week.

Chad Savage, M.D. (info@d4pcfoundation.org) is a policy fellow at the Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation and the founder of the DPC practice YourChoice Direct Care in Brighton, Michigan.

I am a direct primary care (DPC) physician.  DPC doctors have determined ways to improve health care access, include telemedicine, and offer deeply discounted rates on medications, labs, and imaging for a low-cost monthly membership, similar in design and value to Costco.  If matched with appropriate health insurance coverage, DPC can save patients thousands of dollars annually compared to the current broken, highly inefficient system.

DPC is one of the most innovative areas of the current health care system for one reason: it is not part of the centrally controlled (socialized), government-managed system.  DPC doctors offer fantastic care, and they do so without the artificial restrictions imposed by governments and insurance companies, who exert significant power over the practice of medicine.

The freedom enjoyed by DPCs has provided them with the opportunity to innovate in creative ways to improve medical care and medical financing.  DPC doctors, along with free-market entrepreneurs, are competing to find solutions to the problems facing our health care system in ways the government/insurance-controlled system can't or won't.

This doesn't mean that free enterprise is easy.  Building my practice from the ground up was hard, risky, and stressful.  I had to save money to cover my expenses until the new practice grew to the point where it could be successful and self-sustaining.  I also needed to create a business plan, rent space, hire staff, market my new practice model, and jump over countless government-imposed hurdles.  Even after all the hard days and long nights of work, there was never a guarantee of success.

Being one of the doctors creating a new type of medical practice is unquestionably a difficult endeavor, but however challenging, I can't help but think how utterly impossible it would have been under a socialized health care system.  Under such a system, a doctor who wants to develop a new practice, innovative service, or a fancy new widget that could help patients wouldn't be able to do so relying on passion, talent, and hard work alone.  In a socialized model, innovation exists only if permission can be secured from that system's army of slow-moving, often uninvolved government bureaucrats and central planners, because individuals do not own the means of production in socialist systems.

Nothing about central planners makes them prescient, and history is full of examples of government agents failing to innovate, even when a solution was obvious.  Bureaucratic inability to grasp a new idea is never proof of its likelihood to fail.  Numerous culture-changing innovations were initially rejected by others.  For examples, see FedEx's Frederick Smith and Apple's Steve Jobs.

Expounding on this point, Jobs once said, "Our job is to figure out what they're [the public] going to want before they do," adding, "People don't know what they want until you show it to them."

One of the biggest problems with socialized systems is that government agents making decisions often have no knowledge of the industry they are regulating, and even when they do, they typically aren't the customers.  They don't know if a new gadget would make a farmer more productive, a TV thinner, or blood draws less painful.  How could they?  They would have to possess near omniscience to perceive all potential applications — applications that the end user (customer) often readily grasps.

How many existing innovative products and ideas would have died at the hands of bureaucrats, had they been in charge?  How many great ideas have already been snuffed out by regulators the world over?  How do you measure the loss of innovation that never occurred?

Because of such hurdles and the risks of challenging them, countless great ideas have likely died in socialist countries while the defeated whispered, "Why bother?"  We are all likely worse off because of it.  Imagine where our world would be if the creative potential of the millions who toiled under socialist regimes in the 20th century had been unleashed.

Embracing the way of innovation, entrepreneurship, and free enterprise isn't always easy, but give me the opportunity to improve the world while improving myself, and I'll take that any day of the week.

Chad Savage, M.D. (info@d4pcfoundation.org) is a policy fellow at the Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation and the founder of the DPC practice YourChoice Direct Care in Brighton, Michigan.