Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taking health care personally

I saw my orthopedist yesterday about an ongoing problem - one of those things that will have to be dealt with surgically eventually. The last time I saw him was last December and normally I wouldn’t have seen him again for a year but I took a nasty fall and things didn’t feel quite right. Whether because of the fall or just due to the natural progression of things, we're at the point where he thinks we should do the surgery so we had our usual talk about it. In the seven months since we last spoke two new procedures have proven to be effective - one addressing the problem itself, one addressing pain management.

As I listened to him explain the procedures, I had three thoughts. First, my chances of doing well after surgery have increased. Second, this is why medical care is getting more and more expensive. And, third, I’m afraid this type of improvement will be far less likely if the government runs health care.


Anonymous said...

Bingo. Medicine does more for us than it used to. Eventually we can expect particular procedures to get cheaper, but medicine overall isn't going to get cheaper as long as we keep figuring out more wonderful things it can accomplish.

It's like fancy cellphones. Twenty years ago any cellphone at all was so expensive that it was an amazing toy of the very rich. It was bulky and heavy and it had a limited function. Almost everyone got along without it, so it had little impact on the average household budget. No one felt very deprived about not owning one.

Now every year cellphones do new cool things. The old models get cheaper, but the percentage of the average household budget spent on electronic communication doesn't decrease, because new gadgets keep coming on the market, and we like acquiring them and using them. We also come to assume that we could hardly, in any fairness, be expected to do without the wonderful new functions.

So we've actually got people who will budget for several cellphones in one household, each able to do things that were unheard of twenty years ago, but they claim they can't find a way to fit healthcare into the family budget. And they have a persistent belief that the government should find a way to "make healthcare cheaper." What they could do instead is consume only the kind of healthcare that was available to all of us fifty years ago, but who wants to do that? We don't even want to have to live with the kind of telecommunications that were available then.

-- Texan99

Elise said...

Perfect analogy, texan99. I hope you don't mind if I steal it in a future post.