Economics

Let's Have Less Health Care Spending….

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….suggests economist Robin Hanson on his always fascinating Overcoming Bias blog. It's in the form of a petition to the U.S. government for an experiment, with all the links needed to show you which way he expects things will turn out for the marginal value of more health care spending–that is, not very well at all:

Whereas, the US now spends two trillion dollars a year on medicine, which is 16% of national income, a percentage that has doubled every thirty years, threatening to overwhelm federal taxes in thirty years and to dominate the economy in sixty years, and

Whereas,
our single clearest data point regarding the marginal value of this spending, the US-funded RAND health insurance experiment, where from 1974 to 1982, 7700 subjects were randomly assigned to 3 to 5 years of free or not free medicine, found no significant evidence of a substantial health effect of more medicine, confirming the usual results of continuing aggregate healthmedicine correlation studies,

We the undersigned petition the US to publicly conduct a similar experiment again soon, this time with at least ten thousand subjects treated for at least ten years, which should be feasible for a half billion dollars, or one part in forty thousand of annual medical spending.

My own comedic take on the advantages, or lack thereof, of the health care system, from the lamented suck.com.

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  5. I guess if you’re going to say we should spend less money on healthcare, it would be nice to know exactly what we should spend more money on.

  6. I am confused. We spend 16% of GDP on healthcare.

    Europe typically spends 8%.

    How are we the barbaric, uninsured ones?

    Is it because we treat poor people whether they have insurance or not? My recent experience in top flight hospitals showed a very large fraction of “uninsured” people getting world class treatment.

  7. I am confused. We spend 16% of GDP on healthcare.

    Europe typically spends 8%.

    How are we the barbaric, uninsured ones?

    Is it because we treat poor people whether they have insurance or not? My recent experience in top flight hospitals showed a very large fraction of “uninsured” people getting world class treatment.

    The problem is that we insist on a market system for healthcare but are not willing to let people die on the streets if they have no money. We kind of want to have it both ways.

    Also, Europe has figured out that if you spend a little money on preventative measures, you will save a lot in the long run on expensive treatments.

  8. “I guess if you’re going to say we should spend less money on healthcare, it would be nice to know exactly what we should spend more money on.”

    Duh. Drugs, porn and guns. Don’t be obtuse.

    CB

  9. Anecdotal but just last night my doc husband were with a friend who mentioned he was given an antibiotic for the flu. Doc husband said that antibiotics aren’t necessary (or effective) for the flu and the friend said he didn’t pay for them- his insurance did. When I said that type of thinking drives up healthcare costs, you would have thought I spit in his drink.

  10. I guess if you’re going to say we should spend less money on healthcare, it would be nice to know exactly what we should spend more money on.

    Man, you don’t get this whole freedom thing, do you?

    The money you are no longer spending on health care, you should spend on whatever the fuck you want.

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