The doctor should be paid for health, not for sickness

1001 Tales told by the Master

“…And if his patients are sick, then his salary should be cut,” suggests Osho, as Lieh Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu had proposed to their emperor.

In China a strange experiment was done.

The emperor was very much impressed by Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu. He lived long enough to be in contact with the master Lao Tzu, then his disciple Chuang Tzu, then his disciple Lieh Tzu. These three people impressed on the emperor a very novel, original idea, but it has not been followed. The moment the emperor died the old vested interests came back and destroyed something of tremendous value.

Lieh Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu had a strange idea: that no doctor should be paid by his patients, because if the patient has to pay the doctor, knowingly or unknowingly the doctor would like the patient to remain sick as long as possible – that is his business. If he cures him quickly he cannot earn much.

A famous story Chuang Tzu used to tell was about an old doctor. His three sons were studying medicine.

The first son came back from the university and he said, “Now you are too old, you rest. I will take care of your patients.” So the father allowed him to take care of his patients.

After two days the young man came to the old father and said, “It is very strange. You are such an experienced doctor and a woman you have been treating for thirty years, I have cured her in two days. And I am fresh from the college, I don’t know much.”

The father said, “You idiot, it is that woman who has paid all your expenses in medical college. She was going to pay for your two other brothers. She was rich enough, there was no need for her to be healthy. And she was my main source of income.”

Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu impressed on the emperor that if the patient has to pay the doctor, you are creating a very dangerous situation. The doctor’s interest will be that the patient remains a patient as long as possible. And he will apparently show concern that he wants to cure you. He will be in a dilemma himself.

The emperor asked Lao Tzu, “Then what is your suggestion? – because this has been always the case.”

He said, “The solution is very simple. All doctors should be paid by the government, and the whole population should pay the government – nothing to do with the doctor. The doctor has not to be paid because he has cured a patient; the doctor has to be paid if his patient has remained healthy. Every month the patient has to report, ‘I am healthy, you can pay my doctor.’ If the patient falls sick, then the doctor cannot be paid: ‘What business are you doing here? If people are falling sick, then what use is your medicine, your knowledge, your experience?'”

So a very strange system… but the emperor was impressed, it was absolutely logical.

And in my understanding, one day it is going to be the system in the whole world, because its logic is very clear. The doctor should be paid for health, not for sickness. And if his patients are sick, then his salary should be cut. His interest should be in the health of the patient, not in his disease. And the patient has not to pay him, the patient has to pay to the government a certain fee to be kept healthy. The government pays the doctor to keep people healthy, and if they are not healthy, he misses his salary.

But once the emperor was dead, the system disappeared, the old idea came in again – which is absolutely foolish.

Osho, Hari Om Tat Sat, Ch 13, Q 1 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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