One reason U.S. health care sucks

I hate hearing this moronic meme that the United States has the best health care in the world. It doesn’t. Anyone who thinks otherwise is ideologically deluded. I’m looking at you FOX Noise.

One major reason for our tendency to suck is that we have relatively little emphasis on preventative care. Countries with real health care, such as Canada, tend to pay a whole lot less overall in their costs while detecting diseases and illnesses early. (As it happens, this tends to help out poor people quite a bit, but hey, that might shrink the unsustainable, ideologically-driven, money-powered, larger-than-pre-1929 income gap we have going on right now.)

Exemplifying the issue is the recent approval of an insanely expensive prostate drug:

Medicare officials said Wednesday that the program will pay the $93,000 cost of prostate cancer drug Provenge, an innovative therapy that typically gives men suffering from an incurable stage of the disease an extra four months to live.

The good news is that the drug extends survival rates by about 4 months versus no treatment and two months versus chemotherapy. The bad news is that Dendreon, the company that makes Provenge, is about to make a billion or so dollars off the taxpayer. It claims this reflects the billion they put into research, but how much of that was subsidized by the government? And are they going to reduce the cost once they recoup their money? (Hint: No.)

But bioethicists who study health care decisions say Medicare’s ruling on Provenge mirrors the bias of the overall U.S. health system, which emphasizes expensive treatments over basic medical care. Health care costs account for nearly one fifth of the U.S. economy, more than any other country.

“We tend to put our health care dollars into very high-tech interventions that produce very marginal improvements,” said Dr. Steven Miles, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics. “The problem is that we have created a health care system that is uniquely inadequate in terms of access to primary health care, which is where you get the most bang for your buck.”

One of the big problems with our new health care law is that the stubbornness and fear Americans have towards change has prevented a single-payer system. “But my lib3rty!!!11!!!”, they say. Well, I hope you like a side of late-stage cancer with all that freedom. (Wait…do dead people have liberty?)

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12 Responses

  1. Will they reduce the cost? Why do they need to? Drug patents don’t last forever and than come generics.

    Wiki tells me that patents are typically granted pretty early in the approval process and last 20 years. We know what the approval process is like, wiki says the effective period is therefore more like 7-12 years.

    So they can reduce it, or keep it high and get patients who want the brand name stuff and lose the ones with VA health care, like me, who get generics and are perfectly happy. (same with most insurers I presume)

    Drugs aren’t like cheese nips and cheese its. Cheese nips are garbage, cheese its kick ass.

  2. Obamacare give drug companies 12 years of exclusive use by the way. Possibly more than currently.

  3. Again, what is this Obamacare? There is no such thing, except in the minds of those who want to give more corporate welfare to companies like this Dendreon. This is yet another case of insane corporate welfare.

    This marginal drug should never have been approved by medicare. Dendreon should have to stand on its own to show the drug is worth the cost, which clearly is not the case as stated above.

  4. I merely focused on the issue of cost recovery.

    Whether or not it should be approved by medicare doesn’t concern me. I just don’t have the requisite knowledge to be concerned.

    In case I haven’t been clear before, I don’t believe in tax credits at all. So if you’re against those (even a little, for anyone), I think this is the third time in as many days we have had some common ground.

    I’m concerned I may be getting more liberal, or you more conservative. Maybe we should both see our doctors to sort this out.

  5. Wll we’ll see how much the Congressional Rethugs cut from our medical research dollars which feeds companies like Dendreon the data they need to come up with their patents. It’s unbelievable what is happening.

    We rank on the lower end of all developed countries for health care with our bull shit for profit medical system. We have a loved-one on the downside of fighting brain cancer and they are now putting him on a experimental drug which cost $10,000 a shot!! Give me a break!!!!!

  6. While I’m going to disagree with a lot of this stuff here, let me give credit where credit is due:

    Anyone who claims America has the best health care system in the world and it doesn’t need to be changed is wrong. No discussion, they are wrong. Wrong.

  7. I’d rather have a profit based system than a non-profit based one. I think most all problems are best solved when you find a way for someone to make money solving them. It’s also an incentive against waste.

    I would say that if speaking about capability and training that yes we do have one of the top systems out there. If we also consider access and cost…

    There certainly are a lot of changes that need to be made, I just hope the high points of our system are not lost in the process.

  8. Not that we don’t have a lot of waste, don’t misread me.

  9. You balance profit over human life??? We have a for profit medical system in which 40,000 americans die becasue they cannot afford health insurance. You’d rather have that???

  10. Paul, the truth is you have to value SOME amount of money over an individual human life. The question is what price you choose.

    America has a heavily-regulated health care system. I personally would prefer a free market system, but our current corporatist system is so bad I’m willing to believe a government-controlled system could do better.

  11. I believe that incentives work, profit being one incentive.

    Dumping 30,000,000 people on to what resources we have now, while providing an incentive to doctors to retire, isn’t going to make the issue you raise better, but worse. You can’t lower costs and increase access while doing very little to make infrastructure more robust.

    Without profit to be had, why would anyone invest in medical tech? In hospitals? What incentive is there to only finance things likely to be successful if there isn’t profit to be made doing it? The government is probably the worst body to be deciding what techs should be funded and which shouldn’t be.

  12. Free market? Ridiculous Michael! Look at areas where there is a free market, like lasik surgery and cosmetic surgery! The prices are crazy, they keep going up! Only the ultra rich can afford them!

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