Tags: obamacare | healthcare | gas | lines

Obamacare to Bring 1970s-style Gasoline Lines to Medical Care

By    |   Friday, 10 Aug 2012 07:51 AM

For those of a certain age, the memories are vivid. Americans in the early 1970s sat in long lines at the gas station to fill up their tank. Most of that wasted time was due to government policies.

In response to a supply disruption, President Richard Nixon had asked gas station owners to voluntarily close on Saturday nights and Sundays. Additional rules required car owners to fill up only on odd or even numbered days as determined by the last digit of their license plate. Price controls completed the government takeover.

Gas stations sold the same amount of gas they did the year before but were open less. Economist Thomas Sowell has calculated that stations were open for business an average of only 27 hours a week while under government restrictions, instead of the 110 hours per week they were open a year earlier.

This story offers a lesson to Americans too young to remember that painful episode. Service providers adapted to government regulation by decreasing customer service, and consumers were forced to accept limited access.

Healthcare will most likely follow a similar pattern. Service providers will see more restrictions on how they can meet patient needs and face decreased reimbursements for service. However, increased access will results in a larger pool of consumers.

To maintain their level of income, physicians will need to see more patients and spend less time with each one. The need to move quickly through the patients each day will lead to overscheduling and increased patient wait times.

Lower levels of service and increased inconvenience are the inevitable result of government interference in the marketplace, and healthcare is about to become the ultimate playground of regulators.

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