Friday, June 02, 2006

Health care is sick

Why do we spend so much on health care?

According to Henry J. Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in his editorial "A Healthcare Prescription That's Hard to Swallow"  the US currently spends 16% of GNP, more than $2 trillion, on health care costs. Some projections predict that costs will exceed 30% over the next 25 years. The article does not answer the question, but it does present some of the unpalatable diagnosis.

In many other countries with less expensive health-care systems, costs are controlled through various means that are also available here, and "the result typically is dramatically less surgery, less high-technology medicine and much lower healthcare spending — but not poorer overall health outcomes. The British, for example, live slightly longer than Americans yet spend 40% less per capita on healthcare than we do."

On the other hand, I have heard that many of the wealthy natives of countries that economize in health care costs come to the US to get their doctoring, whenever they want something expensive.

Is it too troubling for such a wealthy society to admit that we assign a dollar value to human life and the quality of life? The Terri Schiavo case certainly raised public awareness and sensitivity to end-of-life issues, but it seemed to quiet down soon after she died. Doubtless there are many other similar cases that never get such public scrutiny.


Guy Murray said...

Jim, I agree--our health care delivery system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt. What do you think of Mitt Romney's ideas over in MA?

Jim Cobabe said...

Guy, I'm still waiting to see what develops there. I don't favor socializing our health care sytems any further (though I doubt that my opinion is of much consequence, in the grand scheme of things). Some of what I see in Massachusetts continues worrisome.

I wish I could read Romney better. It would seem that a solidly LDS leader would instill more confidence -- but it concerns me that he wears too much teflon.

Does a successful politician have to compromise too much to continue a faithful saint?