People Do What You Pay Them to Do

This seems like an obvious statement. But Big Government is shocked — shocked! — when it pays doctors to perform surgeries instead of taking time for careful diagnosis and doctors respond by performing surgeries instead of taking time for careful diagnosis.

I wrote in today’s Examiner:

When a health-care providing government pays doctors according to how many procedures they perform, rather than by the effectiveness or their treatments, it makes sense that doctors will perform many more procedures.

Not all of these procedures are necessary. Or proper, for that matter. But since when does Big Government ask what is necessary or proper?

Doctors paid to think long and hard about whether a stent is necessary may be less eager surgeons.

Incentives count, it turns out. People will do what they are paid to do. Doctors paid to implant stents will implant stents.

As incentives attached to single-payer, government-run health care attach to doctors’ paychecks in the coming years, sadly we will see many more stories like this.