POLICY: Overtreated gets huge plaudit

OK. It’s official. David Leonhardt is a convert, even one who can’t quite leave his past behind. In is NY Times selection for Economics book of the year he picks Shannon Brownlee’s Overtreated. (If you want to hear me and Shannon having a good gossip about the American health care system, see here).

Leonhardt can’t quite shake his Stephen Colbert-like past (the market has spoken so it must be true). He still says this:

As I’ve written before, there is nothing wrong with devoting a large chunk of our economy to medical care. Since the 1950s, doctors have made incredible progress against diseases that were once inevitably fatal. That progress is probably the finest human achievement of the last half century. If we weren’t wasting so much money on overtreatment, it would be a lot easier to repeat the achievement over the next half century.

Of course, and it’s been pointed out ad nauseam here, those results were achievable at a much lower cost than we’ve paid, and the difference could have been spent on something with a higher economic return (or in invading any middle eastern countries we haven’t got to yet).

But it’s great to have Leonhardt on board, at least for the Wennberg thesis. Now he just has to convince the rest of the NY Times editorial board.

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