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We all know that when supply increases, prices go down and, of course, that product is more readily available. If there’s a glut of potatoes, chances are good that the grocery stores are going to have a sale on them, offering substantial savings. Conversely, when there is limited supply of something, prices go up and fewer people can have that item. (The iPhone comes to mind. By limiting its availability, they’ve made the things wildly popular, desirable, and profitable. )

As we consider ways to improve health care and its costs in this country, perhaps we should be thinking of physicians as the valuable economic resource to society that they are. We clearly have an impending shortage of physicians to address the demographic tsunami – Baby Boomers entering Medicare age. And the lead time to train adequate capable physicians to address this trend is measured in years, not months. The fewer physicians available to take care of the public, the more expensive care will be. We should be doing all we can to make the practice of medicine inviting, so there are enough talented individuals to deliver care…. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

How are we going to get more doctors, though, when the workplace is such a hostile environment for physicians? As things are now, there is a shortage of doctors, and no relief in sight. The last thing we want to do is run any more off! Without Tort Reform, potential doctors will continue to reconsider that career choice. Without some sort of reconciliation, potential physicians just won’t want to go through the hell and incur the debt. Why should they sacrifice so greatly so that some greedy tweeting twit can sue them and raise their malpractice premium? Doctors inherently want to help, but there’s still only so much anyone will put up with to do so.

We need to take steps to ensure that becoming a physician will be as desirable a career choice as it used to be in the Marcus Welby days. What we can’t afford is to continue to place doctors in such an undesirable working circumstance. If we do, the supply will continue to dwindle, as will the quality of the physicians we can lure into service, and the demand for doctors will continue to increase.

Anyone who thinks that heath care reform can work without Tort Reform doesn’t know much about the Free Market System. Supply and demand… and the supply is dwindling. You don’t need a degree in economics, math or science to figure out where the current path is taking us. If we’re to get the doctors we need for the next score of years, we’re going to have to make it a lot more attractive to become one. Would you sign on for a job that was going to take you 10 years of apprenticeship, cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, get you sued and leave you feeling exhausted and unappreciated at the end of the day? Of course not.

We have a shortage of doctors already. We need new ones just to catch up with the demand we have already, and that doesn’t account for attrition or an increased population, let alone for the potential increase in patient load from a government sponsored insurance program. Let’s think this through and do what makes sense. After all, it’s really just a matter of supply and demand.