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Tuesday, 31 July, 2007

Proof of NB's "economic illiteracy"?

The FreeMarketCure blog picked up on . The incentive, according to some, is making it harder to find a doctor to take over retiring physicians' existing practices.

( mentioned our story as well and received a few comments accusing doctors of being greedy.)

is a US website and video production company that advocates healthcare reform based on free-market economics, as its name suggests. (It also spends a great deal of time and effort trying to debunk claims that a universal, socialist healthcare system would be preferable in the United States. The writers' favourite targets are Michael Moore and Canada.)

(in italics) about our NB article, followed by my responses.

"The National Review of Medicine highlights the economic illiteracy that permeates Canada’s health care bureaucracy."
The article dealt exclusively with one specific incentive in one province only.

"Last year, the provincial government of New Brunswick decided that physicians with full practices needed an incentive to take on new patients. However, like all bureaucrats trying to outsmart the market, they implemented a program whose unintended consequences outweighed any benefit the incentives may have provided. [...] "In other words, by selectively applying the incentive, the provincial government made the 'orphan patient' situation worse."
The incentive's unintended consequences may be frustrating, but nowhere does the article claim that the incentive has caused more harm than good.

In fact, data from previous years about NB orphan patients strategies indicate that the province may be on the right path in the long run, despite a few bumps in the road. For instance, the number of family physicians in the province accepting new patients rose 4.9% between 2001 and 2004, (PDF; see page three).

As far as I can tell, no definitive data is yet available that can tell us what effect the incentive has had since it started in 2006 on the number of orphan patients in New Brunswick.

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