Friday, May 29, 2009

Health Care Articles

I have seen some pretty interesting health care articles recently. First, the LA Times had an article entitled Canada's healthcare saved her; Ours won't cover her talking about the experiences of a lady who because of a bad car accident can no longer get health insurance in America. This is probably the practice that I think most needs to be outright banned. Health care companies should have no access to medical records for setting prices or deciding whether to cover people. The whole point of an insurance system is that the lucky pay for the unlucky. By simply not insuring, or over-charging, the unhealthy we remove the entire reason for an insurance system in the first place. At most companies should be able to see demographic information for setting prices, and I am mostly willing to do that because children are really cheap to insure on average and I would like to see that children's insurance remains cheap under any system.

This law would decrease the total cost of health care in America. Whole armies of bureaucrats devoted to denying health care, or calculating prices based on medical records, could be fired outright. It would up the price of care for a few healthy people, but in exchange they get the knowledge that if they ever get really sick they are still insurable. The only real risk this system would face is people exploiting the system by only signing up when they get really sick. This is easily prevented by letting companies phase in benefits over a couple month period when they are first insured(although it should probably still be banned when people move from one company to another to ensure people do not get trapped by an insurance company).

The second article was in the New Yorker and compared parts of the country where the costs of health care were high, and where they were low and tried to figure out what caused these differences. One of the conclusions was simply that there was no difference in quality of care. To me this seems pretty reasonable. All of the real wonder treatments we have are quite cheap. I would be shocked if Antibiotics and Vaccines were not the biggest life savers we have while being among the cheapest things we do. Back surgeries, advanced medical imaging, plastic surgery, cesarean sections, and cancer care among other things are expensive and do little to help patients. So in fact what our medical system needs is more rationing. We need to stop doctors from trying to help when they are in fact more likely to cause problems than help anyone. All the talk about how we should be afraid of the government taking over the medical industry because of rationed health care are therefore pretty silly. Rationing is just what we need.

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