April 20, 2005

Health care flab in the land of hypomania

Although we have many reasons to be proud of our doctors and hospitals, Symtym reminds those of us in the U.S. that we're still living in the world's medical money pit.

America does some things right, but it could stand to learn a little bit about the things other nations do better. How, then, can I not link to Ezra Klein's effective and short summaries of the health care systems in France, England, and Canada? While none of these nations is quite as pleasant as the USA for rich people who get sick, each of them manages to squeeze a whole lot more efficiency (and efficacy) out of their health care spending than we Americans do.

Perhaps some Johns Hopkins psychologist will explain to us someday why our healthcare system is so bloated and flabby despite our overabundance of hypomanics. Or maybe Ezra Klein, that nauseatingly over-achieving student at UCLA (sounds like hypomania to me!) will tell us all about the rest of the world, and we won't listen. Stay tuned, folks -- there's never a dull moment when the subject is health care in the United States.

Posted by Carey at April 20, 2005 09:58 PM

Excellent analyses by Mr. Klein. To add to the information about Canada, i will tell a story that I believe i told you already, but your loyal readers may want to see.
The grandmother of a friend was living in Canada, and she was 90 years old. She was getting to the point where she needed some assisted living, so her daughter (my friend's mother) brought her down to the states to live with her. It turns out she had breast cancer, and the Canadian doctors had missed it, even though they gave her a gyn exam. This was told to me as a scathing indictment of Canadian medicine, and it certainly sounds like one until you consider:
1) It isn't like American doctors never make mistakes. I know of Americans whose appendicitis went undiagnosed dispite pain in the lower right side. I would suspect appendicitis under those circumstances, and I have absolutely no medical training beyond first aid. If you want to attack a health system by digging up horror stories, you can do that very easily, with ANY health system.
2) The woman was 90 yrs old. IIRC, breast cancer is very rare in a woman of that age, and when it occurs, it is very slow growing. Could someone with a better knowledge of medicine back me up?
3)She never had any treatment for the cancer, and lived another 2 years until she died of an unrelated heart condition. Was it really a high priority to find out whether someone who has a heart condition, who is 90 years old, has a disease that will likely never affect her, let alone kill her? Perhaps finding out she had the cancer was worse for her than the cancer itself.
BTW, I apologize if anyone was offended by the drug reference in my second comment in the previous post about the pope. I merely was checking to see if anyone had commented on my comment, and i noticed the time of day. Could have happened in any post.

Posted by: Larry at April 21, 2005 12:18 AM