Home > Economics, Politics > Megan McArdle is on the money

Megan McArdle is on the money

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If you are too lazy to read it, here’s the basic summary. For everyone who was touting the wonders of health care reform, here are typical talking points I heard:

1) tens of thousands of lives will be saved
2) our infant mortality numbers are astronomically low (friends always cite Cuba as country better than us; a country known for its political integrity)
3) our life expectancy is too low
4) this will be a cost-saving measure (perhaps people are just saying this for comedic effect)
5) blame George Bush (whoops…not sure how that one got there…)

At some point looking back, we are going have to see if there are any statistically significant results. I, like Megan, believe none of these will actually change significantly and some might actually turn out worse.

I’ll take on infant mortality (I commented this on her blog):

1) Our better technology gets a lot of “miscarriages” out of the womb but these infants die soon after
2) We are more successful in delivering premature babies because of said technology
3) Our technology in fertility increases multiple premature births, again not good specifically for mortality stats.

Besides, Cubans abort a ton of babies ; often from those at high-risk situations. One case that I could think of is many Americans will still carry Down’s syndrome children to term. That goes for a whole host of other congenital issues, why carry a child with a certain condition Uncle Fidel will incentivize you abort it.

If anything this is indicative of better health care. For instance, much of our health care costs are also driven by end-of-living costs. The same stents, drugs, machines and other products of technology that keep us alive also daily add to the overall cost of medical care. We have machines that help keeps our hearts pumping, lungs expanding and kidneys cleaning and they cost a shi-ite load of money. Most hospitals will use them even if the patient has no means of paying for it. Again, this is indicative and perhaps a consequence of better not worse heath care.

I could go on and on. For instance, life expectancy is not an equation with a single variable, namely health care. Many Americans suffer from a unique condition called fatfcukitis americanus, caused predominately by eating a lot of fattening foods and working at white collar jobs. While the best cure I hear for this condition is an occasional salad, working out, walking instead of driving to places, this is something that many people simply choose not to do. Point being, lifestyle choices play a huge role in our life expectancy. Our medical innovations (Lipitor, Zocor, quadruple bypass etc.) probably help these people live longer than they would anywhere else, but again are a huge reason why health care costs are so much higher in America. (Maybe there is a moral hazard argument to be made somewhere?)

Don’t worry I’ve got my beef with the Republicans as well and I will take them on soon as well. But, throwing numbers around without any due diligence or accountability? Kinda sounds like the same gripe people had about Wall Street.

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Categories: Economics, Politics
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