Free-riding off Ezra Klein’s Efforts: Three Looks at Healthcare

While we’ve had a few posts at Angry Bear that touch on health care lately, Ezra Klein has been particularly busy on the subject with four medical related posts just yesterday.

Here’s from one of them:

This bitfrom Phil Longman’s review of Jon Cohn’s book seems germane to the question of whether low-cost, socialized systems can innovate:

[This] system’s innovations have included the development of the first artificial kidney, the cardiac pacemaker, the first successful liver transplant, and the nicotine patch, plus many advanced prosthetic devices, including hydraulic knees and robotic arms.

The system in question? Why, the government-run, fully socialized, Veteran’s Health Administration!

In other words… sure, the VHA can innovate.

In Another post, he looks at a recent study comparing the costs of healthcare in Canada versus the costs of healthcare in the US:

[O]f the 38 studies examined, 14 showed clear advantaged for Canadian patients, five suggested US care was superior, and the remainder were mixed. The studies showing the Canadian systems superiority found effects both on income — low-income Americans with breast or prostate cancer do much worse than low-income Canadians with the same conditions — and care effectiveness.

three dots

It’s not that the data shows unbelievable advantages for Canada, to be sure. As the authors conclude, “although Canadian outcomes were more often superior to US outcomes than the reverse, neither the United States nor Canada can claim hegemony in terms of quality of medical care and the resultant patient-important outcomes.” The question raised is slightly different: How can we possibly countenance a system that costs twice as much as the Canadian system but delivers slightly worse care?

I also want to quote from a semi-kinda-medically-ish post he has on abstinence…. ah heck, this one I’m going to steal whole…

“Family Research Council: We need more failed abstinence programs.” That, at least, is how Think progress characterizes this.

The latest federal report on abstinence-only programs shows that they have had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.” Nevertheless, the conservative Family Research Council responds that “one logical conclusion is that to achieve the greatest effectiveness, programs must be intensive and long-term, so that the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to reject sex before marriage are constantly reinforced–particularly in the pivotal high school years.”

That our programs don’t work merely demonstrates the need for our programs.

I think I keep hearing the same argument – “clap louder” – in favor of more tax cuts and the quagmire in Iraq.