Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where Obamacare Would Take Us...

Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is often cited by proponents of Obamacare as a model that we should be moving toward here in the U.S. One consequence of centrally-planned health care is the subject of an interesting article in the London Telegraph. An excerpt:

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

So it's expensive to try to cure old people, and pointless when they are most likely dying anyway. The bureaucratic fix is obvious (to a bureaucrat, anyhow): identify these resource-wasters, withhold all medicine, sedate the crap out of them, and wait for them to die.

Sound like the kind of health care system you want?

The Things We Do to Our Dogs...

Well, some people do. Via the one and only Rachel Lucas.

Health Care Debate...

Of all the reading I've done on the topic (and that's a lot, including several books), there's one source that stands out: Megan McArdle's blog at The Atlantic. Here's a sample from a post she made yesterday:
I think probably most people would agree that if Rand is right, and price controls shave, say, almost a year off of average lifespans, this is not necessarily a good deal for even the squishiest bleeding heart liberal--for the same reasons that socialism turned out not to be a good idea. No, I'm not calling you a socialist. I'm saying that if nationalizing companies and 90% tax rates on the very wealthy had worked well anywhere, a lot more liberals would be in favor of those things, because if you take away the unintended consequences that they turned out to have, they seem to conform to a lot of progressive priorities about justice, distribution, and so forth. But they didn't, and so most progressives have (or so I devoutly hope) abandoned these sorts of ideas in favor of a less intrusive agenda.

So ultimately I'm saying, I think this is the way that our government works, and this is the way that markets work, and for all the screaming, these are not crazy positions. There's plenty of evidence for government crowding out. There's plenty of evidence for price controls. There's plenty of evidence for what happens to markets that are largely governed by price controls.

You may disagree. You think government works better than I do. You think we'll be able to draw a line in the sand and keep the government from crossing over it to take over more of the market. You think government spending can substitute for R&D, because you don't find the socialist calculation debate compelling. Or maybe you say, hey, yeah, well, 0.7 years off the average lifespan isn't a bad tradeoff for covering the uninsured.
If you want to educate yourself about the health care debate, I don't know any better starting point than Megan's blog over the past few months. Health care is but one of the many topics she covers; her beat is economics and all things related to it, and I've been reading her for quite a while now for the general content.

But her sober, level-headed coverage of (and participation in!) the health care debate really stands out...