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POLICY: How dumb is the NY Times?

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?

 

 

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LilySteven HackerTom LeithMatthew HoltPeter Recent comment authors
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Lily
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I found a great prescription discount card at http://www.rxdrugcard.com. Drug prices are posted. Membership fee is low. Worth a look!

Gregory D. Pawelski
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Gregory D. Pawelski

Abraxane: Hope at $4,200 a dose? Abraxane (a taxane) is a new form of Taxol. Abraxane combines the drug paclitaxel with Albumin, a protein found in human blood. Taxol combines paclitaxel with Cremophor, a combination of castor oil and alcohol. The delivery mechanism is different, however, they are basically the same drug. Despite its effectiveness, paclitaxel has some drawbacks. Paclitaxel targets the fastest-growing cells, but it isn’t specific to cancer cells. It also kills hair cells and cells in the stomach lining, leading to hair loss and nausea that are associated with chemotherapy. It is possible for many patients to… Read more »

Steven Hacker
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Hello, I am physician, a child of aging medicare parents and in the medical service business. Nothing is more in the forefront than the issue of Medicare and how it’s coverage, policies and costs are affecting our aging society. Although this is dated today, it is worth emphasizing the need to embrace our system, albeit fractured, the system in many ways is still better than the others. I have written about this issue numerous times in my Keep Seniors Healthy blog at http://keepseniorshealthy.blogspot.com/ . While I address the issue of spiralling out of control medical costs, there is another issue… Read more »

Gregory D. Pawelski
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Gregory D. Pawelski
Tom Leith
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Tom Leith

> why do they put those halos around dog’s
> neks after they have surgery
Not to keep them from licking an open sore, but rather to prevent them opening a closed-with-sutures wound. Not the same thing. So there!!
t

Matthew Holt
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Matthew Holt

He John I, why do they put those halos around dog’s neks after they have surgery then? Ha gotcha! Of course health care is like defense as I’ll tell you on Spot on soon!

Peter
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Peter

I did a short look for life expectancies in Canada and Europe – looks like they can spend half as much on healthcare and get the same life expectancy as U.S. citizens. So who’e getting more bang for the bucks? One statement seems to defy logic: “The growing number of families without health insurance are, in effect, families who have been kicked off the country’s health care rolls. Many will go without available treatment, will get sicker than they need to get — and will thereby save the rest of us money. They are what now passes for a solution… Read more »

Bob Nease
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Leonhardt’s way off on this one. As I note in my blog entry yesterday, he’s got both the math and the logic wrong: the incremental lifetime cost is about $1.65 million per person, and much of the 10-year gain in longevity is unrelated to improvements in health care. Even worse, Leonhardt dismisses the significant savings available immediately through the greater use of generic drugs.

Gregory D. Pawelski
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Gregory D. Pawelski

A National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) poll found that 89% of Americans said that the distinction between oral and intravenous applications should be abolished so that Medicare beneficiaries can have access to the best drugs to treat their form of cancer. According to a recent Health Affairs Study, apparently, Medicare has gone far in accomplishing that task. Nearly all generic cancer drugs and 70% of brand-name cancer drugs are covered by the Part D plans. Most of the brand-name drugs not covered had generic equivalents that are covered. And a number of trusted, old (generic) agents have been found… Read more »

John I
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Couldn’t agree more with everything, except your opening simile. Dogs licking open sores actually helps healing:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001002071718.htm
Let’s hope the Times can heal it’s misleading reporting. Our health system is expensive because it is inefficient – with lots of greedy (well-connected) middlemen who add no value.