Monday, July 06, 2009

Can't help but blog a bit about Health Care

I have not commented on health care because it is not my area of expertise. But my wife is a primary care physician, is head of the Geriatrics Section at Keck Medical School, and was a Health Policy Fellow at the Department of Health and Human Services, so I learn a lot through osmosis and by reading various stuff she puts in front of me.

The most recent thing she put in front of me was from the New England Journal of Medicine. The following reported quote from a Parke-Davis executive really made the hair on the back of my neck stand up:

...We can't wait for physicians to ask, we need to get out there and tell them up front. Dinner programs, CME programs, consultantships all work great but don't forget the one-on-one. That's where we need to be, holding their hand and whispering in their ear, Neurontin for pain, Neurontin for monotherapy, Neurontin for bipolar, Neurontin for everything. I don't want to see a single patient coming off Neurontin before they've been up to at least 4800 mg/day. I don't want to hear that safety crap either...

Economics is supposed to respect evidence; to me, economists who oppose even thinking about a public option (or single-payer option) show no respect for evidence. Medical outcomes in this country are, at best, the equal of any other in the world, but we spend twice as anyone else to get care that is no better than many others'. Spare me stories of queues for elective surgery; when we spend 75 percent more per person than Canada and 2.5 times more per person than Japan on health care, we should get better outcomes. The sort of corruption documented above is at least one reason why we don't.


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