Monday, August 29, 2005

Single Slayer

We should really start the week with happy tales of records scored and the happy times we've been having with widgets. But it can wait. First, some silliness from Instapundit. We had a very polite comment from him once, about the time we were spouting off incoherently about Lebanon, and we vowed never to have a go at him again.

But here goes. Dear Glenn, the US health system is abjectly screwed. This is coming from a young professional with very reasonable health benefits. The system is insane, and nasty unwieldy hodge-podge of private and public systems that serves largely to isolate health insurers from responsibility for high premiums and inflates the price of medical treatments. We've experienced the "Heh"-tastic UK dental system as well as the US system, and it's faster, cheaper, and more efficient. In probably only two areas - outfitting anchormen and repairing Hilary Duff - is it superior.

And the less said about the health system comparisons the better. One can usually see a doctor over a minor problem (the sort that escalates if left untreated) very quickly. In the US, the alternative is the emergency room. Prescription costs are far in excess of those anywhere else, and the bewildering array of service providers (an entire (for instance, shadow system of testing centers that exists, as far as we can tell, simply to provide employment for rude receptionists) jacks up the costs, and eliminates, the convencience of healthcare.

So, here's the worrying thing. There probably aren't enough incentives to keeping the costs of the system down in the UK (copays, in particular), and the system still has pockets of inefficiency. But iif you're wretchedly poor, and increasingly if you're middle class, the UK system wins out every time. And it shouldn't.

The Gladwell article that the 'pundit references says, as any proper New York liberal publication should, that forcing the sick to shoulder more of the costs of health care is immoral. It doesn't say, since even the most liberal New York publication could not, that a wee bit of redistribution is necessary. But it probably is. And Gladwell explains why. It's now become revoltingly expensive for employers to cover these costs, and they do not want to keep doing this forever.


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