Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Health trade-offs

Interesting coincidence: A few days ago, a telegraph article talked about how Europe socialized medice systems are really bad at getting new cancer treatment to their patients and how that is linked to Western Europe’s cancer survival rates being much lower than the ones in the US.

Now today, this report from the Commonwealth Fund says that the US ranks last in “health care quality” among five other rich countries (Germany, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada).

I honestly don’t have the patience to find out all the parameters of this study, but the MSNBC article mentions some of them at the end that are very interesting:

“The United States had the fewest patients — 84 percent — reporting that they have a regular doctor.

And U.S. doctors are the least wired, with the lowest percentage using electronic medical records or receiving electronic updates on recommended treatments.”

Well, I don’t have a “regular doctor”. And the reason is not that it is difficult to find one or that it is too expensive… It’s quite the opposite! My plan offers so many doctors that when I have a problem I go directly to a specialist and not to a “family” doctor.

And the point about being connected is really ridiculous. The US has privacy laws against keeping electronic records that are accessible to other doctors that have nothing to do with the quality of health care!

Now I understand that comparing trade-offs is not easy. But it is really hard to understand why the people who defend socialized medicine have to go through these hoops to make their point, while the other side (for a more capitalist approach that is) can show specific measures of things that work better.

This reminds me of a “factual joke” I heard the other day. Do you know who are the biggest opponents to a universal health care in the US? Canadians. They cross the border in huge numbers for the MRI, hip replacement and other hard to get treatments that they would have to wait for months in the north side of the border.

If you really want to simplify the issue, this comment from the Captain’s quarters post does it best:

“You're health care WILL be rationed. Either by availability (long lists and inflexible calendars) or by price. I'd rather have the chance to come up with the money somehow.”

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