Obamacare Regulations Stifle Innovative LASIK Eye Surgeon

Who is Dr. Craig Beyer?

Dr. Craig Beyer, a practicing ophthalmologist and LASIK eye surgeon, is an innovative physician who at one time thought President Obama might bring some good ideas to the table in D.C. and voted for Mr. Obama in 2008.  Then reality set in; Dr. Beyer quickly saw how Obamacare was going to adversely affect his practice and medicine in America more generally.  He didn’t make the same mistake in the 2012 election.

When Mr. Obama was first running for office, Dr. Beyer was under the impression that he would reform Medicare physician reimbursement as part of Obamacare, making it fairer to doctors.  But instead, Obamacare changed Medicare in ways that allow the federal government and bureaucrats to micromanage doctors even more.  For example, as Heritage explains:

Obamacare mandates a 2 percent reduction in Medicare physician payments for doctors that do “not satisfactorily submit data” to Washington officials, and a 1 percent reduction for physicians who fail to follow bureaucrat-defined “cost” metrics.

Now Dr. Beyer is doing what he can to get the word out about how bad Obamacare is for medicine.  In 2010, he published a book, Heaven or Health, a doctor’s common sense plan to save our health and our health care system.  He also started a Facebook group, Doctors Against Obamacare, where he and other physicians post stories about the harmful effects of Obamacare.

But what makes his situation as a LASIK eye surgeon insightful for the rest of us?  He has a perspective, experience with patients, and knowledge about the medical industry that D.C. bureaucrats and lawmakers do not.  Yet, he says that nowhere in the Obamacare debate did lawmakers actually engage doctors.

Dr. Beyer was also part of the team that performed the world’s first laser vision correction procedure and was one of the first to perform experimental LASIK surgery in 1988.  He knows the meaning of innovation and has experienced firsthand how effective the free market is in encouraging physicians to develop procedures that better meet their patients’ needs.  He currently owns his own practice, Boulder Eyes Beyer Lasik, but he also dedicates time to combating the destructive law known as Obamacare.

LASIK and the Free Market

Last May, John Stossel wrote about the mind numbing ways Obamacare micromanages health care in America.  For example, few people are aware just how many times the words “the Secretary shall promulgate regulations” are repeated in the text of the law.  One estimate is that these paper pushers have added 30 words of regulations for every word in the original law.

“Government likes to think regulations can account for every possibility.” Stossel said this excessive regulation makes sense on “Government-Planned World,” but “it will be no more successful than Soviet central planning.

Then, to demonstrate how the free market works better than government regulation, he wrote about LASIK:

Compare all that to a tiny part of American medicine that is still free-market: Lasik eye surgery.

Its quality has improved, while its costs have dropped 25 percent. Lasik (and cosmetic surgery) are specialties that provide a better consumer experience because they are a market. Patients pay directly, so doctors innovate constantly to please them. Lasik doctors even give patients their cell phone numbers.

Stossel was right; from Dr. Beyer’s first hand perspective, Obamacare is smothering LASIK eye surgeons’ ability to operate in the free market.  Obamacare limits the amount of money that can be placed in FLEX Accounts, and under Obamacare, health care plans that encourage such shopping around, such as catastrophic plans with high deductibles and tax-deferred health savings accounts, are much more difficult for individuals to obtain.   The Cincinnati Business Courier reported on this very phenomenon in April.

Dr. Beyer added that by limiting insurance options – whether those limitations come through a single-payer system, Medicare, or limiting individuals to 2 or 3 insurance companies under Obamacare – through fee setting, the government can dictate where patients are sent and which doctors they are able to see.  Therefore, there will be less competition, less patient choice, increased administrative costs, decreased payments to providers and ultimately, worse patient outcomes.

Dear Liberals, Doctors Are People Too

Dr. Beyer said:

 “Providers aren’t slaves yet their biggest employer (the government) thinks they are.  As the government moves closer and closer to a single payer system (like Medicare), it will continue to ratchet down on doctors, who unlike other government employees, are not represented by unions and not afforded the ability to collectively bargain.” 

That is a very important point that liberal pundits and politicians do not seem to comprehend.  Excessive, restrictive government regulations and decreasing payments to physicians make the practice of medicine more tedious, less rewarding, and less attractive so ultimately doctors have no choice but to leave the profession.  The Heritage Foundation notes:

Obamacare exacerbates [the physician shortage in the U.S.] by further worsening physicians’ attitude regarding the health care system. According to a survey by The Doctors Company, the largest insurer of physician and surgeon medical liability in the nation, not only do doctors believe that Obamacare will not improve the health care system, they also anticipate that it will make the current condition worse.

All too often, the left makes doctors out to be the enemy, condemning them for being paid too much, but good doctors are vital to the good of our nation. Doctors go through the grueling years of medical school and residency – generally a 7 to 8 year period during which hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt are acquired, not to mention the stress endured.

Dr. Beyer addresses this in his book, Heaven or Health, explaining that a young man who finds work as a plumber at the age of 18 making $40 thousand per year will have a significantly greater net worth by the time he is 40 years old than a doctor who begins working at the age of 32, having acquired $120 thousand in debt.  The young doctor faces higher tax rates, must pay the interest on his loans, and must pay down his debt.

Moreover, it is especially egregious for liberal politicians to criticize doctors for how much they are reimbursed for their services and to manipulate physicians’ income through invasive regulations.  Think about Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 14% who opposed a cut in Congressional pay because it would offend her “dignity”:

I don’t think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do.  I think it’s necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.

Nancy Pelosi gets paid $193,400 per year in taxpayer money to help ruin the country with destructive liberal policies.  It doesn’t matter if she has roughly $30 million in the bank – she gets taxed on her income.  Conversely, a doctor whose net worth is negative $1.2 million (doctors who start their own practice often have to invest hundreds of thousands in medical equipment alone), and who made $275 thousand per year is considered rich and taxed on his or her income, because the debt doesn’t count against income.

Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues are unrelenting Obamacare supporters, even though the law is destroying American healthcare.  Dr. Beyer has ideas about how to improve this situation.  The Heritage Foundation does too.  And they look nothing like Obamacare.

Related links:

What Does a “Free Market” in Health Care Look Like? Here’s an Example
The Conservative Alternative to Obamacare
After Repeal of Obamacare: Moving to Patient-Centered, Market-Based Health Care

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20 thoughts on “Obamacare Regulations Stifle Innovative LASIK Eye Surgeon

  1. Pingback: Millennial Bulletin (11/26/13) | Millennial Bulletin

  2. I came here from a tweet reading “This doctor has free-market solutions to healthcare reform, and they look nothing like Obamacare.”

    Can anyone tell me where the “solutions” are hidden in this article? I honestly don’t see any, and the only “solution” I can infer from context is “get rid of Obamacare” as if that would suddenly make all healthcare regulations go away (or that that would be a good thing).

    LASIK surgery is a great example because it shows exactly why most healthcare can’t operate in free market conditions. LASIK is an elective, quality-of-life procedure that has cheap alternatives (glasses/contacts) that work well. There are many people willing to pay thousands of dollars to undergo such surgery, but providers’ costs are contained by the fact that no one really needs it so they have to compete on quality and price.

    Compare this to cancer treatment, or an ER visit due to unexpected heart problems. How on earth would the LASIK free-market strategy work in those scenarios, or thousands of others? I agree that we shouldn’t put onerous regulatory burdens on elective procedures governed well by free markets, but I don’t see very many lessons here for the healthcare system at large.

    • You don’t see the lessons? I am tempted to make some vision-related jokes, but I won’t.

      The “lessons” are contained in the course the LASIK procedures took while in the free market: heavy innovation combined with steadily dropping costs.

      You seem to be under the impression that only “elective” healthcare services can operate effectively in a free market. I’m not certain why you have this opinion, but it appears that you think the free market is only effective in economizing goods and services that are “not life-or-death related”, because of your question about how cancer treatment or emergency medical services could possibly work in a free market strategy.

      It’s a great question though, so let’s address it: can emergency rooms or cancer treatments or any other emergency medical service operate effectively in a free-market scenario?
      Yes, they can. First of all, being a matter of “life or death” does not make something a bad candidate for operation under the free market. On the contrary, it makes it vital that it should be as unregulated and free-market as possible, in order to get the most innovation and cost reduction as possible, as quickly as possible.
      There has been a steady torrent of words full of negativity and distrust of free-market capitalism coming from the Left for over a hundred years now, and one of the big angles their propaganda has taken is to first paint all capitalists as selfish, greedy swindlers who are only out to make a quick buck, then to define certain things as “vital necessities” that everyone should have access to–like clean water or emergency medical care–and then say we can’t trust those greedy, selfish capitalists with managing water or health care, because they’ll charge you outrageous prices because they know you’ll pay it because it’s a matter of life and death.

      The insidious thing about this bit of propaganda is that it is, in a certain sense, true. It is a distortion of truth though, and the distortion is easily missed because it happens after they first get you thinking about needing something like EMS and having to turn over all of your assets in return for a medical procedure to save the life of a loved one, or yourself. Fear and outrage kick in, banishing reason.

      The distortion is based on a flawed understanding(or a purposefully skewed depiction) of how free market capitalism works. Let’s go ahead and allow, for the sake of argument and demonstration, the claim of the Left that all capitalists are selfish, greedy pigs who would sell their daughters into slavery if it meant they could add another zero to their net worth. This is totally untrue, but even if it was, it wouldn’t matter. Because the essence of free market capitalism is to direct the energies of people’s inherent self-interest toward the greater good through the pursuit of profit, and the best way to make a profit is not to swindle, lie, cheat, and steal from everyone you meet. The best way to make a profit is to provide the best goods and services for the lowest prices. This is why the Left despises Wal-Mart: because that company is a textbook example of how capitalism really works, by providing huge amounts of goods and services to millions of people every day for low prices. The fact that poor people shop at Wal-Mart is a testament to the success of free-market capitalism, because those people have access to things they wouldn’t have access to, or may not have been able to afford, otherwise.

      So if the health care system was completely free market and was dominated by people motivated solely by greed, guess what? You would have your choice of a huge range of possibilities for any conceivable health problem you might have, because all those heartless, greedy bastards would be in competition with each other for your patronage, forcing them to ever newer and greater heights of affordability, excellence of care, and innovative, effective treatments.

      • I was greatly disheartened by the story about the Ohio WalMart, where they were asking their poorly paid employees to contribute to a canned food drive for the even worse paid lowest tranche of WalMart employees. Were they to use their meager wages to make purchases from the WalMart grocery, further enriching WalMart, to compensate for a stagnating minimum wage that hasn’t moved in almost a decade? Even people on Social Security get a modest cost-of-living adjustment each year. That might be a more poignant reason why some people “despise” WalMart, rather than the lofty think-tanky “they are enemies of capitalism” argument.

        • Yep, I remember that story. It was a lovely example of the Left spinning a story to support their worldview, and totally failing at showing any kind of comprehension of economics.

          For one thing, those food drives were not orchestrated by Wal-Mart, they were organized by employees. The contention that it was some kind of corporate plot seems unlikely, in light of that.
          Also, here is a fun and interesting fact about charity drives: giving is optional. This means that only people who wish to give, and can afford to give, will give…and some people who needed help, get a little help…and absolutely no one who did not want or could not afford to provide any help, was forced to do so against their will. The results, therefore, are all positive, with no negatives. Until the Left shows up, that is, and organizes a couple of hate-fests and just generally makes sure everyone remembers to be properly miserable. All that charity crap cuts into their food stamp dependency racket, you know?

          I don’t know what your political philosophy is, or where you stand in terms of ideology. I try not to make such determinations unless it is blatantly obvious, which I don’t think it is, in this case. Anyway, on the off chance you are truly concerned about these kinds of things, and are interested in looking for root causes in order to gain a better understanding of how things like this can occur, I would be glad to explore the issue with you. I do not by any means have all the answers(not even close), but I believe I know enough to get us started. How do we arrive at a state of things where employees of a multi-billion dollar company in the wealthiest nation in all of recorded history can be so strapped for cash that other employees organize a food drive to attempt to help them out? It is a good question, but it is unlikely to have an answer that would fit nicely on a bumper sticker, a la “Corporate Greed”.

          So, if you are willing, one place to begin is prompted by your mention of a “stagnating minimum wage”. Try looking up information on what minimum wage has been used for historically, when it has been implemented and why, under what circumstances, and of course, what the results were. I think you might be surprised. I know I was.

          • “A MINIMUM WAGE THAT HASN’T BUDGED IN 10 YEARS?” OK, OK, I’ll give you that, but lets look at the root cause of WHY THAT MATTERS!

            It matters because of INFLATION! What causes inflation, a govt supported monopoly of CENTRAL BANKING! Again, yet another example of why the free market would solve all the things the lefties whine about!

            Increasing the minimum wage would only hurt the poorest among us, not help them.

          • That is not the case. If an increase in salary is a despicable outcome, hurting more, then no one should demand any increase in salary, because everyone following is hurt by the demand. Are you willing to hold the line in your pay wages for the next 5 or 10 or 20 years, because “increasing the minimum wage would only hurt the poorest”?

          • No. By causing a blanket increase in wage payments for all entry-level employees regardless of merit, skill, or ability of a business to pay, the net effect is higher unemployment for low-income earners and less ability for those who kept their jobs to pay for what they need as the costs of everything rise with the cost of labor.
            Desiring an increase in salary, and then earning it by increasing one’s productivity on the job, does not have those effects.
            Raising the minimum wage has nothing economically in common with achieving a higher salary.

          • You are an idiot.

            You seem to think that the jobs that people do for minimum wage reflect the income they EARNED. This is nonsense. Companies pay the minimum wage only because it is required. If it were lower, they would pay lower. I’ve been in and around many of these minimum wage jobs and many of those people work far and above what they seem to have been deemed worth merely because a minimum wage law has been set.

            Step down from the ivory tower and try to live your day-to-day on what those minimum-wage earners make. Those companies aren’t saving anyone any money other than the investors in these large corporations by denying hard-working individuals of making a living wage. The idea that raising minimum wage to a living wage will hurt these businesses and our economy has been debunked repeatedly.

            But then again maybe you don’t see those workers of having EARNED anything more than 8 dollars an hour so they deserve the lives they have. Do the math. Could you provide for yourself and any family working 40 hours a week and only bringing home $12k?

          • I think there might be a misunderstanding here, which prompts me to ask these questions:
            How do you know what my income might be? Or who my co-workers are or have been? You imagine me in some lofty “ivory tower”…why? Because if I disagree on economic principles with the concept of minimum wage, I must therefore be in some rarified income height and thus woefully ignorant of the plight of low income earners?

            I am willing to debate the subject of minimum wage with you. I am passionate about and fascinated with the subject of economics. But you aren’t debating me, you’re attacking a straw-man you constructed from your own preconceptions.

          • I think you believe i really think you live in an ivory tower? It’s a metaphor for ignorance.

            I did notice you did not answer my last question. Instead you just responded with a few hypothetical questions regarding something I did not impose on you.

            So, again… Could you provide for yourself and any family working 40 hours a week and only bringing home $12k?

          • Very well. But your question is rather vague. Where does this hypothetical family live? Indiana? India? Indonesia…? Also, when did they live? 20 years ago? 50 years? 100? Yesterday?

            Because the answer to your question is “yes”. Where and when will dictate how lavish(or not) that provision would be.

            “Ivory Tower” is not just a metaphor for ignorance. It specifies a particular kind of ignorance…a protected, coddled, “above the fray” kind of ignorance. The kind that someone born to wealth might have about the “plight of the working man”, for instance.
            What a coincidence that just so happens to fit your other inferences about me! Amazing how that happens.

            Here are some questions for you: When was minimum wage first enacted in the U.S., and for what purpose? What percentage of jobs in the U.S. actually pay at minimum wage levels? What do you believe is the lowest wage upon which a family of four with no major medical problems can survive in present-day New York City? Rural New York? How about rural Texas? Oregon?

          • You take me back to my original statement. You are an idiot.

            Let’s conflate the argument with time and space. Why don’t we specify which planet as surely there is another universe with an Earth where you can answer particular questions.

            This is why people cannot have serious conversations about real problems in THIS country (yeah, silly me for not realizing we were not specifying that it wasn’t about Indosesia?!?) I see you want a debate but its not to address any real issues. Its just to show that you can use your amazing(sarcasm) debating skills.

            You remind me of Congress… The US Congress, btw. You know the one here in this country at this time on this Earth in this universe.

            And let us say for the sake that you actually mean to have a conversation… that it’s a rural city and a married family with two young children who were born and raised in a small Mississippi town where the largest employer within 20 miles is the local Walmart.

          • I answered your question with a “yes”. I asked where and when for the purposes of illustration, because I am trying to have a conversation, but all I’m getting from you in return is ridicule and reducto ad absurdum.

          • I agree, minimum wage has been hurting the poorest among us for a long time.

            However, in the U.S., it has outpaced monetary inflation, according to the government’s own Bureau of Labor Statistics, at any rate. The first national minimum wage was 25 cents, which, adjusted for inflation, is equal to $4.07 in today’s dollars, more than three dollars below today’s national minimum wage of $7.25. Monetary inflation is not the problem.

            The problem is, labor costs affect the costs of everything, just as fuel prices do. A steadily rising cost of labor in the form of a minimum wage law makes the prices of everything go up. The fact that minimum wage also causes an overall shrinkage of the ability for supply to meet demand only makes it worse. Raising minimum wage will only ensure there are even less jobs than there are now, and that those who do have entry level jobs will be harder pressed to make ends meet, despite having marginally higher wages, because those wages won’t buy as much as they do now.

          • I hope you had a fine Thanksgiving holiday, R.A.. I am living in Canada and our Thanksgiving was celebrated in October.

            Yes, I am aware of how the minimum wage first came forth in the US; yet another mechanism to control women. But that is the origin from roughly 100 years ago, which is as pertinent to this moment as is Reconstruction to determining
            the way forward on race relations today.

          • Hmm, I was speaking about the history of wage controls everywhere, not just in the United States.

            But for the U.S., the first minimum wage law enacted was the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which, to quote Dr. Thomas Sowell, “…passed in part explicitly to prevent black construction workers from “taking jobs” from white construction workers by working for lower wages. It was not meant to protect black workers from “exploitation” but to protect white workers from competition.”

            This is pertinent to this moment because it gives a clue to what government-enforced minimum wage actually does.
            To quote Dr. Sowell again:

            The net economic effect of minimum wage laws is to make less skilled, less experienced, or otherwise less desired workers more expensive — thereby pricing many of them out of jobs. Large disparities in unemployment rates between the young and the mature, the skilled and the unskilled, and between different racial groups have been common consequences of minimum wage laws.

            That is their effect whether the particular minimum wage law applies to one sector of the economy like the Davis-Bacon Act, to the whole economy like the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 or to particular local communities like so-called “living wage” laws and policies today.

            By enforcing a “minimum wage”, you make it that much harder for people on the lowest end of the income scale to get jobs. A business that would have hired 2 people at $5 an hour will only hire one if it must pay $8 per hour, which means someone doesn’t get a job. The real “minimum wage” is $0.00

  3. At least Craig Beyer appears to be ABO-certified (American Board of Opthalmologists), as opposed to Rand Paul, who farmed his own dubious “certified” board consisting of himself and a few other family members.

  4. He voted for obama in 2008! Was he 18 years old? Heck of a way to learn, but elementary assessment skills are mandatory for every good healthcare worker.

    #1 in politics: learn the definition of political sociopath! Abnormal psychology is taught to every doctor and nurse.

  5. Pingback: Obamacare Regulations Stifle Innovative LASIK Eye Surgeon | NoisyRoom.net

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