Saturday, November 29, 2008

U.S. health care sucks when you look at costs per person compared to benefit

I've argued for years with a friend of mine about the need for change in the U.S. healthcare system.

My friend, being the kind of guy who plays it safe politically, always trotted out the old trope of how we have the best medical care in the world and other people with money come here for our state of the art medicine.

I always opted for the reality argument. Specifically, that our system should not be judged by how good we are at dealing with the unique and novel medical mystery, but how effectively we treat what ails the vast majority of Americans, viz., heart disease, diabetes, etc.

Now, doctors are jumping on the universal health care bandwagon. They wisely foresee their future will not be in business as usual, but as part of a system focused on prevention and efficiency.

Some doctors are starting to point out the significant inefficiencies in our current system.

Those inefficiencies create massive profits for some and their incentive to change that waste is very small.

I see health care as a moral issue: If we can save two people through prevention for the cost of what we pay to cure one person, then we have a duty to save the two people.

John Stuart Mill was correct when he said we must provide for the greatest number.

The moral thing won't keep doctors and insurers rich. Too bad the pocketbooks of a few are keeping a majority at greater risk for death.