Thursday, August 20, 2009

A health care question?

Before I get back to the health care debate, a thought experiment. Who among us would chose European or Canadian health care if it meant that the technologies and medicines developed in the United States were unavailable to us? Put aside - for a moment - whether you think this is a "false choice"? Can't we at least agree that these systems would be awful without American technology?


Anonymous said...

It's not just that your 'thought experiment' is a false choice, though it is, it also stems from faulty logic.

It's not health care providers who are creating medical technology, it's private companies like GE Health, Epic, BD, etc. Sure, providers would need to purchase those technologies, and thereby pass the cost on to payers; but, then, is your argument that European and Canadian providers don't provide sufficient medical technology to their patients?

If that is your argument, then some data to support that charge would be useful, because it's definitely not found in the outcomes.

Or is your argument that American providers essentially subsidize European and Canadian providers by paying drastically more for medical technology? Again, some data would be useful for that.

But this notion that the 'extra' Americans pay is going directly to better medical technology just isn't logical.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

I guess I could put aside the fact that it's a false choice the way McIlheran put aside the fact that the House bill doesn't actually contain death panels in his piece today.

Yes, I would make the trade. Because let's face it, innovation does little good if very, very few people can access it.

Fortunately, my answer is a false choice. It's called the NIH.

Jay Bullock said...

Who among us would chose European or Canadian health care if it meant that the technologies and medicines developed in the United States were unavailable to us?
You could also turn it around ask whether you would want to keep your US health care without all the European-developed drugs and treatments.

But again, such a world could not exist. Why consider it, except to push your agenda through a different kind of misdirection?

AnotherTosaVoter said...

I think there is value to the question, though maybe not as Rick intends.

There was a great article in one of the British papers recently about the debates in the U.S. and Britain about our perspective health care systems.

I will link to it later, but the gist of it was that since we've grown accustom to our different systems, our expectations are so different to the point that arguing the merits of the two systems is pointless. British citizens overwhelmingly value the security that comes from knowing that the state will pay their medical costs - they don't need to fear bankruptcy or lack of access (though they may have to wait longer). We on the other hand, used to our high-tech, immediate service, are generally not willing to risk what Rick is talking about for the comfort of knowing our treatment won't bankrupt us.

The debate here in the U.S. is, how do we keep our choice, our high-tech solutions, our immediate service, etc. without bankrupting ourselves? Because now that we have it, we feel entitled to it and we don't want to give it up.

Problem is, it will eventually bankrupt us as the risk pool of people who can actually afford insurance gets smaller and smaller.

We can't have it both ways.

illusory tenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
illusory tenant said...

some data would be useful

Yes. Which could be tricky, considering medical innovations are often realized not only through a combination of public and private investment, but of international joint ventures.

illusory tenant said...

McIlheran put aside the fact ...

What else is new.

I see this morning he's once again trumpeting the tale of the woman who was flown from Alberta to Montana to give birth to her quadruplets in 2007 (all expenses paid, is the fact McIlheran puts aside in that instance).

Apparently he's running short on anecdotal outrage.

Several months ago McIlheran had cited the case of a Quebec physician in whose waiting room an elderly man had collapsed and died.

The fact McIlheran studiously omitted in that case was that the doctor ran a private clinic, and had chosen to opt out of the public system.

McIlheran also failed to disclose the fact that the doctor was admonished after a coroner's inquest revealed that he had examined the patient, decided not to even attempt resuscitation, called a (publicly funded) ambulance to dispose of what he assumed was a corpse, and returned to his office.

And for this they laid off Tom Strini.

Anonymous said...

The only free market answer is to put the purchasing power back into the hands of the people.

That can be done with medical accounts, breaking up the health care monopolies and legislation to help protect people from financial ruin.

Anonymous said...

Enough health care. What's the shark's opinion of No. 4 in MN?