Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« Nuke the Rednecks and take their oil | Main | Anti-Semitisim: The Socialism of Fools »

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Can Nurse Practitioners Help Reduce Medical Costs?

That's a pretty silly question, isn't it? Of course they can. There are many aspects of health care that can be provided at lower cost by nurse practitioners than by MDs. [see Phil Miller's take on this, for example]. So why don't we see more nurse practitioners in Canada? In this lengthy, but insightful and well-informed piece, Brian Ferguson explains the situation. Here is a brief excerpt from his piece:
There is a way to bring NPs into our health care system, and to do it quickly and relatively easily. It won't happen, because it involves letting the market work... [I]n the real world of Canadian health care policy, all that will happen is that we will continue to fall further and further behind the US in the use of NPs and the like. We'll have endless meetings whose participants do nothing but bicker, and we'll produce lots and lots more glossy reports saying that NPs would be a really valuable addition to our heath care system and that the stakeholders will be getting together to try and figure out how to integrate them into Medicare ..................... And we'll continue to have a shortage of providers of primary care, and those of our nurses who would make really good NPs will go to the US, where the market says they're highly valued. But at least we'll still have a publicly run health care system, and ultimately, that's all that matters, isn't it.
To his credit, my family physician works with a nurse practitioner.

Posted by EclectEcon on October 23, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Can Nurse Practitioners Help Reduce Medical Costs?:


EE: Completely agree with you, seeing as getting any sort of meaningful agreement on waiting times (I do hate "wait times"; we don't say "shop trip" or "meet place") seems beyond the ability of our governments. And then they lie to us about what they have achieved and the commitments they have broken. And the cash keeps flowing, for what real ends knows only God--or in fact nobody.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-24 9:07:26 AM

Sure, the NP's can compete with MDs on a cost basis. But why do we have so few MDs, and why do they cost so much, even when they're doing simple, routine tasks?

There is no solution for this schmozzle except to get rid of socialized medicare entirely. Only a free market, free of government subsidy and regulatory interference, will work to everyone's mutual benefit.

It gives me no end of puzzlement how Canadians visit Cuba on vacation, and tut-tut about how communist management of food and housing leaves the Cubans in poverty. Then they return to Canada, fully expecting that their politicians can make a communist medical system work.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2005-10-24 11:01:17 AM

There are a few problems with the "more nurse practitioners solution". As you point out, NP's do a great job of uncomplicated stuff. Unfortunately, as the baby boomers age the growth industry in health care will not be uncomplicated well-woman care, well-baby care, and or colds/flus/ear infections (the NP's areas of expertise). The growth will be in individuals with complicated co-morbidities. Patients who have heart disease, and diabetes, and arthritis, and hypertension and (name your chronic illness) all at the same time. These are the patients that require a physician. Moreover, we're projecting a huge shortage of regular old nurses. If we continue turning them into NPs were are we going to get the nurses? Robbing Peter to pay Paul has never made for effective solutions.

Posted by: Boudica | 2005-10-24 12:12:28 PM

That doesn't negate the need for more nurse practitioners. They can still treat minor ailments that don't require a doctor. (i.e. If a diabetic with osteoporosis has strep throat, it's still strep throat, and the treatment is the same.) In any case, if the market were allowed to work, there wouldn't be long term shortages of nurses or MDs. There would be periods during which there were shortages no doubt, but long term the market would respond with more incentives for people to train to be nurses and doctors.

Posted by: Raging Ranter | 2005-10-24 8:42:24 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.