Healthcare Reform -- Democrats are Naive

The democrats are the ones talking most about healthcare reform. Clinton, Edwards and Obama all have their "plans." Each is banking on huge savings to be reaped by preventive care -- testing, screening, non-smoking campaigns, check-ups and the like. They say all of these programs will keep many people from getting seriously ill and will save, in return, the huge costs of treating them. Lower health expenditures on the seriously ill will reduce costs generally, so the thinking goes, and make healthcare available to larger numbers. Sounds good, but misses a whole lot of costs and realities associated with preventive care. They need to go back and rethink all this.

The democrats are the ones talking most about healthcare reform.  Clinton, Edwards and Obama all have their "plans."  Each is banking on huge savings to be reaped by preventive care -- testing, screening, non-smoking campaigns, check-ups and the like.  They say all of these programs will keep many people from getting seriously ill and will save, in return, the huge costs of treating them.  Lower health expenditures on the seriously ill will reduce costs generally, so the thinking goes, and make healthcare available to larger numbers. Sounds good, but misses a whole lot of costs and realities associated with preventive care.  They need to go back and rethink all this.

In fact, there is little evidence that preventive care saves money. The first thing the democrat "reformers" are missing is that preventive care costs money too.  And, it must be made available to a very large number of people to catch a much smaller number who are likely to get seriously ill.  There are estimates that it would require treating five people for every one who might benefit from early detection or changed behavior.  That is not cheap at all.

Preventive care may indeed be a good thing, but it is not without real costs.  Assuming it can be done without incurring major costs (or doing it on the cheap) is a serious error -- and raises hopes that cannot be met.  Healthcare reform is important, but we need some new thinking by some very imaginative people who understand the economics of medicine.  Clinton, Edwards and Obama are not such people.

The New York Times has a good piece on preventive care: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/08/business/08leonhardt.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Marlene Jackson
Marlene Jackson: Marlene writes funny and interesting stories for us. BA, City College of NY.

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Comments

  • sarilibm72

    August 09, 2007

    At least the Democrats have some plans and goals. With the Republicans, it is just about preserving the status quo and tens of millions without access to health care.

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