Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

15 August 2009

Krauthammer - Preventive Health Care Increases Costs

Obama is running about making many false claims of problems with the present health care system and in favor of a government-run health care system. One of his favorite false claims is that more preventive health care will reduce the costs of providing health care. Charles Krauthammer points out in a commentary called More Health Care Nonsense, published on 14 August 2009 on Real Clear Politics, that this claim is nonsense.

In order to catch the disease early in one patient to save money on the further treatment of that patient, you need to test many other people, whom you will find do not have a problem. Numerous studies have shown that this generally increases health care costs overall, rather than lowering them. Of course we choose often to do the testing in order to reduce human suffering, but we do not do it in order to lower costs overall. When we are making a personal decision on whether to test or not, we are willing to assume higher costs for our testing in many cases than society as a whole would be willing to do. In a government-run health system, one way to save money is to reduce the amount of testing. If it were politically feasible, which would come to be the case at some time in history after the government has found many ways to run up the costs of health care, then less testing will be done in the government-run system and more people will suffer more from problems which would have been discovered earlier in a private health care system.

As with so many things, Obama is wrongheaded. He is wrong to imply that
  • A government-run health care system will provide more preventive health care.
  • This preventive health care will reduce costs.
The error of the second bullet will become clear very quickly, while the error of the first bullet will evolve more slowly in time. Shortages in health care workers always result in government-run systems, so the necessary workers will not be available to increase preventive care. The rising inefficiencies (ala the U.S. Post Office) will increase costs and require reductions in incomes for health care workers, so many will leave the field and fewer will enter it. The costs of tests and other services will become too much for the over-burdened system to bear, so they will be severely rationed.

Damn, other than pointing out that the U.S. Post Office has bad problems, almost everything Obama says turns out to the opposite of the truth. He is like a compass that always points to the South Pole.

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