Jewish World Review Oct. 24, 2003 / 28 Tishrei, 5764

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

The Medicine Men
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Want health service — go on a diet? | Some might call it a symbiosis. We call it a racket: Professional medical worrywarts find or manufacture a problem, label it a crisis, then demand that the government take action.

For example, who's responsible for medical consequences of obesity? You? Or a government health authority?

The British Labour Party wants to do something about government spending on obese Brits. And what they want to do gives new meaning to that old adage "Any government that's big enough to give it to you is big enough to take it away."

A headline in a recent issue of the Times of London read "Fat people will have to diet if they want to see the doctor." The author, political correspondent Melissa Kite, writes:

"Overweight people and heavy smokers would have to sign contracts promising to diet or give up cigarettes in return for treatment, under radical new plans being drawn up by Labour. The [London] Times reports that written contracts would set out the patient's responsibilities while offering them help to cut down or quit smoking, lose weight, take more exercise or eat a more nutritious diet. Those who fail to keep their side of the bargain" could be denied government-provided care.

The policy documents outlining the plan "will be debated at the party conference agreed to occur in 2004 and will form the basis of the next election manifesto."

Donate to JWR

Unlike American Medicare recipients and the doctors treating them, British NHS patients and doctors are free to seek and provide medical treatment privately, outside the strictures of the government-provided NHS. So, when even this draft (or shall we say daft?) Labour Party document describes the National Health Service (NHS) as a "free, yet finite service" and that "Labour intends to stop wasting care resources," perhaps there is hope that humane sanity is creeping back into the debate.

Let's consider how such a system might work in America. We could take those who are "overweight" and not take care of them. One recent study claims that 20 percent of Americans are overweight and that 2 percent are morbidly obese, i.e., 100 pounds or more overweight.

Starting with about 300 million Americans, 20 percent would be 60 million. If government health programs currently cover half of these presumed fatsoes, and if half of the covered ones didn't follow the government-prescribed program adequately enough to please their medical/government inquisitors, we'd have 15 million recalcitrant fatties off the government health lists, eliminating over $50 billion of what the British Labour Party draft writers would presumably call "wasted resources."

While we're at it, we might also deny care to smokers who develop tobacco-related illnesses ... or at least stop them from collecting millions in lawsuits where they blame others for their self-inflicted predicaments.

But is there really an obesity crisis? Recently, syndicated columnist Paul Campos attended an obesity meeting in Boston. Noted Campos on Oct. 12, "Boston University's Knight Center hosted an all-star lineup of obesity researchers who gathered to promote their belief that fat is an epidemic disease. ..."

He also notes that "many doctors, scientists, eating disorder specialists, sociologists and other experts argue that these beliefs are profoundly mistaken and counterproductive. Yet ... such persons rarely participate in these sorts of conferences."

In other words, only the people who believe in the fat epidemic bother to show up to discuss the issue. This makes sense: For the non-believers, or for those who believe that public health epidemic control tactics won't work, it's a non-issue.

We agree with the latter group. Too many public health specialists see their public health knowledge the same way a 3-year-old boy with a hammer sees the world: Everything's a nail.

These discussions do betray the logical endgame of those elitists who not only believe they know more than you do but also believe that their mission in life is to tell you - nay, force you - to live your life they way they think is best.

The "problem" of allocating all our national resources is only a problem if someone can control all our resources. For example, there's no problem with our national shirt resources, which range from T-shirts to dress shirts, because no one can control all our shirt sources, short-sleeved or otherwise. Fortunately, not many people want to.

Who decides what medical care - or shirts - you should get? We believe it should be you, using your own resources and resourcefulness, not a health care dictator.

Who should reduce - or not reduce - their weight: That is the personal medical question. Would Americans tolerate the outrageous fortune of incentives proposed by the Brits?

Americans long ago learned that busybodies with power, such as George III, turn into dictators. That's why the American colonies broke away from his control and created a limited rather than all-powerful government. And that's why Americans are likely to continue to turn away from medical elite busybodies with their entourage of necessarily heavy-handed government control to personal responsibility and personal allocation of resources.

Rationing begins in the family - and should end in the family. Decisions about buying health insurance and medical care should be family - not government - decisions. Charitable institutions are secondary sources of support. Any government medical program should be much more sharply focused than our current Medicare and Medicaid programs.

As even the British Labour Party implicitly acknowledges, government control and provision of "free" medical care is very expensive and leads to great waste of resources.

So, rip up and burn the central-control drawing board and roast marshmallows on the fire.

And by the by, how would you like to be - and what would you think of - a physician who must refuse to treat a sick patient because he lost only 10 pounds instead of the mandated 20?

And what would you think of a physician who defied the government (and went to prison) to treat him?

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and a Discovery Institute honorary fellow and board member. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.


10/15/03: The War on Legal Painkillers: Sen. Kerry owes an apology to the more than 48 million Americans who suffer chronic pain
10/13/03: Medicare defrauds itself
09/19/03: Politics prevents women from learning about abortion/breast cancer risks
09/12/03: Medical mischief
09/05/03: Unholy medicine
08/29/03: The California Tea Party and West Coast Determinism; Voter anger coming your way soon
08/18/03: The outlaw prosecutors: A Justice and Civil Liberties Issue
08/08/03: "Toxic Teeth?"
07/25/03: Resuscitating the Constitution; CPR American Style
07/25/03: Drug reimportation: Bill translates to goodnight, patients
07/11/03: Costly Medicare Changes, Without Real Reform
07/04/03: The Painful DEA II: War on legal drugs ensnares too many doctors and not enough dealers
06/20/03: The Medicare Mess: Will President Bush call Congress' Bluff?
06/13/03: Diagnosis: School Insanity: A suit for sanity and school discipline
06/05/03: Soaring Medical Costs: Rational ignorance or rational enlightenment?
05/30/03: A Tale of Two Admirable Women: Jessica and Annika
05/23/03: Latest medical innovation: Cash
05/09/03: We feel your pain; Physicians have it too no thanks to the DEA
05/02/03: Medical Quarterbacking
04/25/03: CNN the "Conscience-Not Network"
04/21/03: Medical Miranda?
04/11/03: Are childhood vaccines shots in the dark?
04/09/03: The PETA Principle -- The lambshank Redemption
03/28/03: American conscience?
03/21/03: West Wimps or Wings: Treatment for Hollywood Hypocrisy
03/13/03: Worldwide schmaltz shortage looms --- all because of a featherless chicken
03/06/03: Legal metastases are killing us
02/28/03: Outside the Jury Box: Seeking Justice rather than a Lottery in Medical Liability
02/21/03: Workforce temperature rising; employer TLC in demand
02/14/03: Malpractice Insurance: They Reap What They Sue
02/12/03: Hawk, Dove or Groundhog: Diagnosis Critical List; Prognosis Uncertain
02/07/03: How about tax cuts for the "rich" and "poor"?
01/31/03: AIDS Bug Chasers
01/24/03: Libertarian moment or movement?
01/17/03: It's not just 'sue the docs' anymore
01/03/03: A pox on the critics; diagnosis sour grapes
01/03/03: If protesting is good for your health; then at least let's root for the home team
12/20/02: Obesidemic (obesity epidemic) or not?
12/20/02: Time for voluntary informed smallpox vaccinations
12/13/02: The real reason the state opposes homeschooling?
12/06/02: Conscience of a former conservative: Portrait of a political metamorphosis
11/27/02: Thanksgiving dinner hazard?
11/22/02: Time to think outside the box and inside the nucleus
11/15/02: The military should be protected from abusive environmental laws in times of war
11/11/02: Does Kyoto Treaty pose more harm than global warming?
10/31/02: Deep thoughts on Baseball, the World Series and Life: How about them Anaheim Angels?
10/23/02: "Pediatric rule" guinea pigs
10/23/02: Once the World Series ends, we need to create a Donnie Moore Day of Remembrance: Sports and mental health
10/18/02: Congress to senior patients: Do as we say not as we do for ourselves
10/11/02: Using pollution "scare labeling" to political advantage
10/04/02: The Great Asbestos Heist: Did Litigation and Junk Medical Science Helped Bring Down the World Trade Center?
09/27/02: The imminent rise of civic feminism: A far healthier national alternative in war and peace
09/20/02: A Ray A Day" to replace the daily apple?
09/13/02: Beware of celebrities hawking drugs
09/06/02: Avoid 9/11 overdose: Give blood to begin "September of Service," SOS
08/28/02: From Doubleday to strikeday: Baseball's collective anxiety attack
08/23/02: Should she or shouldn't she?: An alternative view on treating menopause with HRT
08/16/02: Cooking up defenses against germ warfare
08/02/02: Medicine, crime and canines
07/26/02: Lies, pathologic lies and the Palestinians
07/19/02: Medicare Drug Follies as in "now you see it, now you don't"
07/12/02: Anti-Profiling: A New Medically False Belief System
07/08/02: Don't procrastinate, vaccinate!
06/28/02: The scientific advances on the safe and effective deployment of DDT are being ignored, or denied. Why?
06/21/02: Sex and the system: In seeking healthcare men are different from women
06/14/02: The FDA, drug companies and life-saving drugs: Who's the fox and who's the hen now?
06/07/02: Medical Privacy Lost: A hippo on the healthcare back!
05/24/02: To clean up America's game: A (soggy) ground rule
05/10/02: Free speech is good medicine
05/03/02: Medicine's Vietnam
04/26/02: Attack on alternative medicine could lead to alternative lawsuits
04/12/02: Insure the 'crazies'?
04/09/02: No Time for Litmus Tests: In War We Need a Surgeon General and NIH, CDC, and FDA Directors
04/02/02: The scoop on soot: A dirty rotten shame?
03/22/02: Too many beautiful minds to waste: The first annual Caduceus Movie
03/15/02: Terror and transformation: Defense essential for health & state of mind
03/08/02: Diagnosis: Delusional
03/06/02: The great matzah famine
03/01/02: Is new Hippocratic Oath hypocritical?
02/15/02: Why the recent moaning about cloning?
02/08/02: Searching for Dr. Strangelove
01/15/02: Score one for the value of human life
01/04/02: Medical-legal-financial wake-up call
12/28/01: Who's afraid of a 'dirty bomb'?
12/21/01: End of medicine?
12/14/01: More heroes: Docs deserve a little credit after 9/11
11/16/01: Do we need 'Super Smallpox Saturdays'?
11/09/01: Why the post-9-11 health care debate will never be the same
11/01/01: Common sense good for our mental health
10/26/01: Your right to medical privacy --- even in terror time
10/12/01: Failed immigration policy ultimately bad for nation's mental health: Enemy within leads to epidemic of jumpy nerves
09/28/01: Can legal leopards change their spots: A treat instead of a trick
09/21/01: Civil defense again a civic duty
08/30/01: Shut down this government CAFE
08/23/01: School Bells or Jail Cells?
08/15/01: Time to take coaches to the woodshed
08/10/01: Blood, Guts & Glory: The Stem of the Stem Cell controversy

© 2002