Health Insurance and Hard Choices

Salon has a doctor writing about how even “socialized” health care is way too expensive because the emphasis is on “get sick, go to the doctor” instead of on prevention. Like pretty much all decent people outside of the U.S., he takes first world nations’ responsibility to see to the health care of all citizens as a moral given, much the way Americans see “socialized” education, roads, and fire departments as a given. So really, this is just an argument about the hows, not the whethers. It’s worth noting that Dr. Parikh uses Canada as his main point of comparison, and theirs considered one of the most inefficient universal health systems.

That said, I agree with him that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure in health care. Which is why I lose my shit watching wingnuts in D.C. redirect HIV aid from prevention to treatment, because I believe they think AIDS is a good disincentive/punishment for having sex and they don’t want to interfere with catching it. No matter if you can get AIDS drugs to every man, woman, and child who needs them around the world, you’ll save more lives if you blunt the spread of the disease through condoms and education. Few diseases, once acquired, have a magic bullet cure. To use a more mundane example, think about dentistry. They can do amazing things in that field, fix teeth that a century before would have fallen right out your head with a lot of pain attending. If you do lose your teeth, they can make new ones for you. But there’s no crown, no filling, no dentures that can equal the tooth you grew by yourself, and any dentist will tell you that. The disease of tooth decay wasn’t cured, really, but its worst symptoms were managed. Same story with heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses that plague our health care system.

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