Like a dog licking an open sore, the NY Times again returns to the "we spend so much on health care because it’s worth it" meme in a ridiculous article called The Choice: A Longer Life or More Stuff. (This post was about a different NY Times author’s stupid article on the same subject last month). They then print a bunch of reader responses, sadly few of which point out the fact that compared to countries who spend less money we’re not getting "longer life" (although the first one does).
But none of them point out the simple truth. We spend that much because the system has been politically rigged so that it’s virtually impossible not to. There is no causal connection between the vague desire for increased life expectancy on behalf of the public, and the increase in health care system spending. But there is a huge causal connection between the desire for greater health care system revenue on behalf of the system stakeholders and the increase in health care spending– because we have a funding system set up on their behalf. Has the NY Times not heard of, say, Medicare Part D? Have they not heard of 30 years of Wennberg’s Dartmouth works which proves that high cost care has bugger-all to do with improved outcomes? This is like saying we need 5,000 nuclear warheads or a brand new attack fighter 15 years after the end of the cold war, or that the drug war is effective. It’s patently not because we need those things, but it’s because there are strong interests that have gotten them funded!
Why can the NY Times, which does occasionally notice the rape and pillage of the ecoonomy by the health care system (though not as well as the WSJ does), not leave this open sore alone? Perhaps Judy Miller has been reassigned to the health beat and is ghost writing all their stuff, being fed lines by the health care equivalent of the Iraqi National Congress. What other explanation makes sense?