July 25, 2009

So health care costs in US grow faster than Income and Economy. It surely can be partially blamed to how inefficient and high overhead the system is but I think fundomental reason is different. Medicine has to offer a lot to people these days  – I did the MRI another day and was surprised to see how many artificial things people can have in their body. The more advanced medicine is just more expensive –  in terms of development, training, care.

The cost of what medicine could provide for individual is so high everyone can’t possibly get the health care at the maximum extent possible. This is scary – the life is sacred and we want to believe everything possible would be made to save our life but this is just not possible. Furthermore with continuing development the gap between average health care society can afford and what medicine can provide will widen.

What does universal health care do ? It fixes the costs which in the end means it limits amount of health care one can get. In my life I lived in 3 countries with universal health care – Russia, UK and Sweden and there is a lot in common. You would have the long lines for certain specialists and procedures or the doctor will plainly refuse to send you to specialist for the same condition as you would have no problem going advanced diagnostics in US.

Just in the last month I had a routine MRI check.  I could schedule it the next day. My mother in UK also needs one…  she is still to get back the letter when her appointment to be scheduled and expects it to be at least 6 months away.

True, the state run health insurance usually treats life threatening conditions seriously and you can get diagnostics you need, but because of economy on screening and diagnostics or outdated equipment you have less chance to be diagnosed in time.

Available drugs is also the question. During my time in UK there was a big scandal with national health care not covering expensive last stage cancer  drug. It extended people life few years but it was considered too expensive  still – the same money could save more lifes being invested in something else.

As I mentioned the numbers of course matter. Litigations as well as salaries play its role. Russia for example can afford much more doctors because they are paid much less. The doctors in state run hospitals could be earning as little as $200 a month.  Doctors in UK and Sweden of course earn much more than that but still no match for their US collegues.

Insurance companies (at least some) also place the limit on the medical expenses. I think my insurance covers expenses up to $2M  in a life time.

There is no free cheese and if  health care is provided to everyone there is going to be caps on the services provided. The only question for me if this is going to be honest and clear what services are available or would it be making services available in theory but impossible to get in reality.

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