"I am a refugee," my anesthesiologist told me after I had awakened from my third surgery in 12 years -- one to repair a muscle tear in my left shoulder and two for the same disc in my lower back. "I am part of the British 'brain drain' of the late '60s. Doctors could not make any money. So I left." Britain's loss, my gain. The same surgery 12 years ago required a two-day stay in a hospital. Last week, after a two-hour surgery, I left the same day as an outpatient.
But under ObamaCare, we can expect a loss of talent and a decline in quality of care. Thousands of us, the doctor explained, abandoned England to practice medicine in America. "So, how's this?" my doctor said. "I left the U.K. to get away from the government telling me how to practice, what to charge -- and now we are getting the same thing. ObamaCare stinks, and the people will regret it. What happened to the docs there will happen here."
Great Britain began practicing socialized medicine through the taxpayer-funded National Health Services in 1948. And indeed, one of the first U.K. studies on the emigration of their native-born physicians, "British Doctors at Home and Abroad," published in 1964, noted that, beginning in the 1950s, their docs were leaving for "high-income" countries at an alarming rate: "Many of them stressed the wider field of work they could undertake in general practice abroad and criticized the limited role of the general practitioner in England." And nearly half a century later, Britain's "brain drain" continues.
Medical advances require research and development. And as much as government spends on health care and medical research, the private sector spends much more. But ObamaCare places a tax on medical equipment manufacturers, to raise $20 billion for the federal coffers when it goes into full effect in 2013. As a result, some medical device manufacturers are already closing up shop or downsizing to reflect lower profits under ObamaCare. Some canceled plans for new U.S. plants, looking to other parts of the world. Many manufacturers have already announced significant layoffs, and most also look to other alternatives, including cutting research and development, and passing along the tax's costs to the patients.