Comment 9154

By Dan Neuman (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2007 at 21:45:56

Excellent article, particularly the points about prevention and complexity. The big problem, though, is that the US doesn't have market-based health care: the customer, the patient, has little say in what care is given, and since he doesn't pay the bills directly, doesn't much care what it costs. No, the US has the worst of both worlds: profit-orientation, coupled with the multiple bureaucracies of multiple HMOs and insurance companies.

Milt Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote an excellent essay on the topic in 2001 that is highly relevant today. You can find it by googling (Milton Friedman How to Cure Health Care).

I agree with you that effectively managing my own health care may take more effort than I'm willing to make (heck, I hate getting physicals as it is, and they're (subjectively) free!), but Friedman shows a true market-based system is possible, and may actually be more efficient. But I'm not willing to do the experiment in Canada. Let's get the US to try it out first.

If you want to see what a true private health system looks like, get yourself a pet. Veterinary care is significantly lower in cost than medical care -- I'm guessing mostly because salaries are significantly lower (possibly 1/2 for equivalent service). And that may partially be because some people are willing to forgo treatment if they don't like the price -- their pets aren't worth that much to them. I'm not sure how it'd work if their own health was on the line.

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