Monday, April 30, 2007

Health care is cheap

Fifteen years ago, John H, my "partner" (boss, really, but a very good one) in my career as a country doc scoffed at my fears of the cost of health care. John argued that it was good value for the dollar, and that we should be prepared (as a nation) to pay quite a bit of our GNP towards health improvements.

Now the world of economics is catching up with John:
Whose life is worth more, a drug dealer's or a prostitute's? - By Tim Harford - Slate Magazine

...Kevin Murphy of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business has calculated the value of health improvements in the United States since 1970.

They're vast—about $10 trillion in today's money. Looking further back, if you had to choose between the material progress of the 20th century and the improvements in health, it would be a tossup. The health gains are as valuable as everything else put together. Encouragingly, health in most developing countries has improved faster than in rich ones, suggesting that global inequality is falling...
The fundamental debates, of course, are about what a nation owes all of its citizens, regardless of their wealth, ability, and good looks. That debate is bigger than mere health care or the cost of health care.

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