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Tag Archives: medical

Crystal_Perfume_BottleThe headlines out of the US are dominated by health care reform and the Obama/Gates story, and I am no longer interested in either bit. But I did find an funny story out of my long-ago hometown of Ft. Worth. Perfume puts 34 people in the hospital. I have smelled bad perfume before, and it does get deadly when overused.

This story turns out to really be about “contagious fear.” There was a dizzy salesperson, an announcement made on the building’s PA system, and people started feeling ill. Sorry, but that is so weak. I have no sympathy for these people and no respect.

Come to think of it, maybe this is why Americans are so afraid of socialized medical care. The hospitals might get swamped.

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housecallToday’s Yahoo Opinion page introduces two articles arguing about the degree of government involvement in private industry–New Bill Ends Government-Run Companies and The private health industry’s time is up. The first decries the US government’s control of over 500 companies and makes some good points about the inability of public companies to run efficiently and competitively.

The second article argues that the profit motive has left US medical services far behind much of the developed world, largely because health insurance is too expensive for much of the population. Included are some statistics, bizarre for the richest country on the planet–

  • 18,000 people die each year of preventable illness
  • The World Health Organization says the U. S. ranks 37th in terms of health system performance
  • The U.S. is far behind many countries in rates of infant mortality, life expectancy, and preventable deaths

But is the solution to socialize the system? It may be, but I wonder if the profit motive has pushed the medical industry into  a noncompetitive system that might be restored to a working, efficient market. I remember one of Lewis Thomas’ essays where he recalled a very different medical industry of the early 20th century. It was affordable and competitive, and a doctor’s care was available because of need, not ability to pay.

Sure the technology is much better now, but I suspect the real culprits are the insurance companies and the AMA, effectively managing to set monopoly prices for medical care.

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