Doctors Debate the Individual Mandate

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

All this week, we're talking about Department of Health and Human Services vs. Florida, the health care case at the Supreme Court. Today the Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans to purchase health insurance. Failure to purchase health insurance could result in a fine. We've heard from constitutional scholars and economists for their take on health care reform and the individual mandate, and today we'll hear from doctors who actually provide the care. Once it's fully implemented, how will the Affordable Care Act affect physicians? How do doctors think the individual mandate might change patient care?

We turn to three doctors this morning who have very different perspectives on the individual mandate. Dr. Rachel Nardin is a neurologist at Cambridge Health Alliance and an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kevin Pho is a primary care physician in Nashua, New Hampshire, and a blogger at Dr. Hal Scherz is a pediatric urologist and a professor of urology at Emory University School of Medicine. He is also the founder and president of Docs4PatientCare.




Dr. Rachel Nardin, Dr. Kevin Pho and Dr. Hal Scherz

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [4]

Richard from Cleveland, OH

Unfortunately, Dr.Scherz uses old, tired, conservative talking points regarding government getting between doctors and patients and the number of uninsured in our country. The ACA is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. Insurance companies have started new programs to make health care more affordable in response to the ACA. The provisions regarding how much profit they can make (the loss ratio) has forced them to become more efficient. We should not throw out the baby with the bath water as we try to improve health care access in our country.

Mar. 28 2012 07:54 AM

I'm a "young invincible" who is in great health, yet I was surely grateful for my health plan when I was in a car accident a couple years ago and racked up about $12k in hospital bills in about three or four hours (x-rays, CAT scans, etc.). Luckily I was given a perfectly-clean bill of health, or it would've been a lot more money.

The point of health insurance is that you can be healthy all your life and never have an accident... but you won't know until the end of your life if you're going to achieve that. Anyone, no matter how healthy, can have a freak accident or be diagnosed with an expensive illness without warning. If you're banking on the fact that that won't happen and haven't purchased health insurance, you may be in for a nasty surprise. I hope we're all lucky enough that that never happens to us, but you never know.

Mar. 27 2012 12:01 PM
Clifford Kaye from Detroit, MI

Interesting position from Dr. Hal Scherz. I'm a physician that trained at Emory as well. I would like to challenge his notion that we shouldn't include the "young invincibles" (YI) Does he mean to imply that YIs don't cost the system due to lack of preventative care? Do they not cost the system when they suffer terrible accidents? How about when they present without symptoms to the hospital with advanced sequelae of longstanding undiagnosed hypertension. Not counting them is quite convenient for one side of the argument.

Mar. 27 2012 09:09 AM
Harvey Cornfield from Boston, MA

I am a physician, and like most of the colleagues I work with, the ideal solution would be a single-payer national health insurance program. But the reality is that this is not politically possible so I accept the Affordable Care Act as a step in the right direction. I do not share Dr. Scherz' concern about government involvement in the delivery of care. We doctors on the whole have failed to regulate ourselves, contributing to a system that spends more per capita than that of any other country, yet delivers worse care overall than nearly all advanced economies. Private insurance companies already stand between me and my patients, and I have no way to influence them or even know how their decisions about coverage are reached. I would much prefer to have one entity to deal with, and one whose top management can be voted in or out.

Mar. 27 2012 07:10 AM

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