Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Docs & Politics

There was a fascinating piece in the NY Times suggesting that on the whole, the medical profession is moving leftward politically.

Here were the main reasons cited:

Definitely need some weathermen to know which way the winds blow.

  1. The demise of private practice in favor of salaried work. [For an analysis of this phenomenon, read here.]
  2. The hassles of administration [i.e. paperwork and bureaucracy] leading to a preference for a more idealized, streamlined form of “care for all.”
  3. Moral outrage at a patchwork system of health coverage the currently excludes ~50 million Americans.
  4. More women (and part-timers) in the profession.

What do you think?

If you’re a doctor, have you felt your politics changing or standing more resolute in the face of the passage of health care reform?

If you’re a patient, do you ever talk politics and/or health care reform in the U.S. with any of your doctors? What’s your take on their positions?

Rather than give you more of my spin, I’ll just excerpt the last four paragraphs of the article here to save you some clickage:

Even in Texas, where three-quarters of doctors said last year that they opposed the new health law, doctors who did not have their own practices were twice as likely as those who owned a practice to support the overhaul, as were female doctors.

Dr. Cecil B. Wilson, the president of the A.M.A., said that changes in doctors’ practice-ownership status do not necessarily lead to changes in their politics. And some leaders of state medical associations predicted that the changes would be fleeting.

Dr. Kevin S. Flanigan, a former president of the Maine Medical Association, described himself as “very conservative” and said he was fighting to bring the group “back to where I think it belongs.” Dr. Flanigan was recently forced to close his own practice, and he now works for a company with hundreds of urgent-care centers. He said that in his experience, conservatives prefer owning their own businesses.

“People who are conservative by nature are not going to go into the profession,” he said, “because medicine is not about running your own shop anymore.”

Not about running your own shop anymore…

Does he mean that the folks choosing medicine as a career nowadays are less entrepreneurial? Or simply less interested in controlling the means of ‘production’?

These are excitin’ times in the world of doctoring.

If you don’t believe me, just read ol’ Dr. Gawande’s commencement address at Harvard Med, courtesy of the New Yorker.


  1. Jeremiah

    I started my adult life as a blue blooded, pull yourself up by your boot straps conservative.

    As a consultant my contract “provided” healthcare through Aetna. I paid 100% of the premiums. Every Dr. visit came with a minimum of 1 hour on the phone haggling over coverage and trying to find out why any and all claims were denied, before getting paid.

    That experience shifted me hard to the left. If as a reasonably well paid professional I had to fight for every inch with an insurance company, I cannot imagine what it must be like for other people.

    • glasshospital

      Hey-thanks for the comment and the insight. I like your blog. Congratulations on having the courage and self-knowledge to take such a tremendous risk.

      Dr. John

  2. Lesley Merceir

    Its rare for me to discover something on the net that is as entertaining and fascinating as what you have got here. Your page is sweet, your graphics are outstanding, and whats more, you use source that are relevant to what you are saying. Youre certainly one in a million, good job!

  3. Dr. Dalton

    The only effect I’ve seen in my private practice are 2 patients who came in with “Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans.” PCIP’s. One had IDDM. That was terrific that he had insurance BUT he also had a large deductible. Thus the program only goes (and I hope will only go) so far. The Yeoman Doctor article has me scared! I don’t want to lose my practice or independence. I don’t think even my “rich” patients would pay out of pocket. People like to use their insurance when they have it! That’s probaly why they’re rich!
    I am a woman and do work IN the office part-time, but I do “virtual consults” OUTSIDE of the office. No, insurance doesn’t reimburse these, but they are a small part of my practice. Cheaper for pt., and little overhead for me!

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