Saturday, May 30, 2009

A self-refuting column on health care

I've noticed that many people who think that government-run, single-payer health care is a good idea are themselves compelled to observe that their critics are correct about the deficiencies of government-run, single-payer health care. Here's an illustrative example from the blog Cosmic Variance. The author's proud conclusion to his article is:
Access to quality health care should be a basic human right in a civilized, technologically advanced society like the US. It has become our greatest shame in the world that we cannot provide that for one in six of our people.
However, earlier in the article, he wrote
Another huge factor in the exorbitant cost of health care in the US is a topic that seems to be very seldomly discussed in the media: the end of life. Something like 27% of Medicare costs go to the last year of a patient’s life. How much of this is simply due to the fact that the patient, and their family, wants to try anything possible to achieve a cure, when in fact the doctors and the nurses know full well that the patient is terminal? Greater emphasis on counseling patients and families, plus a change in our culture that would make us more accepting of death, and an increased focus on preventative and palliative care rather than heroic but clearly futile and expensive late-stage treatments could save our society hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
Under the new system, everyone will have an intrinsic right to quality health care, unless we don't think you're worth it, in which case you won't.

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