Category Archive 'Barter'

22 Apr 2010

Elite Laughter at the Idea of Bartering for Medical Care

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Sue Lowden, Republican candidate for the Senate from Nevada

Snotty progressives are laughing themselves silly over Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden’s reference to the old fashioned practice of impecunious patients compensating their doctor with gifts of goods or services.

In reality, back when I was a boy and even earlier, when you went to the doctor or the hospital, they just treated you. The modern custom of demanding that you fill out a form promising to pay and supply your insurance card before they look at you did not exist.

A small percentage of patients, of course, couldn’t, or wouldn’t, pay. In the old days, doctors just looked on treating such patients as their personal charitable contribution to the community and an inevitable part of the cost of practicing their profession.

The poor, of course, consisted of two kinds of people. There were the unfortunate but decent people, and there were the bums and deadbeats. Doctors could console themselves that they would only have to treat deadbeats once in a very long time, since shame would cause the deadbeat patient to go down the road to another physician the next time he was ill, and he’d naturally work his way through every available other doctor in the neighborhood before returning to the first.

Respectable people without money would find a way to compensate their doctor. One doctor I used to know as a boy received fresh baked bread every week from a widow on Social Security he’d taken care of. Men would turn up at the doctor’s house on Saturday, look over the premises, and find painting or repairs that needed to be done and start working without permission. Farmers without money would deliver fresh produce or meat. Yes, a doctor might well be given a number of chickens.

The left finds the idea that it is possible to try to discharge a debt informally and without cash changing hands funny. Personally, I’d say that all the sneering and crude guffawing over Ms. Lowden’s observation simply demonstrates all over again just how provincial, unsophisticated, and unfamiliar with normal life modern leftwing fashionistas really are.

One of my Yale classmates was snickering away this morning, sarcastically asking the doctors in the class how they’d like being paid by barter. I responded:

How about you? You’re a lawyer. Suppose some poor little old widow lady getting $600 a month on Social Security came to you and begged you to represent her. You know she can’t afford to pay you, and you know she needs the help. So when you solved her little problem, she sends you cookies at Xmas time every year. Does that work for you, or are you going to insist on a program forcing everybody in America to pay thousands of dollars a year for legal services insurance or go to jail, and a big federal bureaucracy rationing legal services and setting your fee schedule?

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