Arnold Kling  

Health Care Op-Ed

P. J. O'Rourke has Competition... Freeman Dyson on Biotech and t...

I have a piece in the Washington Times. I compare Michael Moore's "Sicko" with my wife's "documentary" of our daughter's college graduation last month.

On one side of me at the graduation sat the director/co-star, a breast cancer survivor. On the other side was my father, whose heart condition and blood pressure threatened to take his life before my daughter was ready to graduate kindergarten, much less college. Finally, there was my daughter herself, who since high school has had a chronic intestinal illness sufficiently contained that she could graduate on schedule.

None of these three stars would have been there without medical treatments that only became available since my daughter was born. New drugs played a significant role in each case...

Much of the medical innovation that the world enjoys comes from America. While as an economist I find much to criticize about our health-care system, America's role in medical innovation is crucial not just for Americans, but for the entire world.

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COMMENTS (4 to date)
David L writes:

That is a very powerful use of anecdotal evidence to bring home and make real to people the facts about drug innovation, but in very powerful human terms. For some reason those on the economic and labor left seem to often be confined to a zero-sum, static view of the economy and issues in general, with less regard for future results and outcomes. Michael Moore especially appears to have a Delta value of close to zero when it comes to factoring in future value.

Robert Scarth writes:

David L - "those on the economic and labor left seem to often be confined to a zero-sum, static view of the economy and issues in general"

This is not quite correct. Its true if you confine yourself to consideration of material goods - better health care, cleaner environment, cooler gadgets - but its not true if you take account of the smug feeling of togetherness that tax funded health and education appear to engender in large numbers of people. My experience as a UK citizen is that people seem to get a huge amount of utility from the fact that "we" (ie other tax payers) are looking after the poor and needy (ie me and people just like me).

Andreas writes:

I as a doctor often prescribe American brand drugs for my patients although they are named different here in Europe... Andre

Bill writes:

The other day, I told my physician, "I love the pharmaceutical companies!" He was rather surprised, to say the least. In the past eight years, five newer, "expensive" medications have improved my life far beyond their cost. My quality of life would be much reduced without the existence of these drugs. Thank you, Big Pharma. You've done more for me than most.

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