Words of wisdom on preventive care

No one really knows whether preventive medicine will save money in the long run, let alone free up the billions of dollars a year needed to help pay for universal health insurance.  In fact, studies have shown that preventive care – be it cancer screening, smoking cessation or plain old checkups – usually ends up costing money.  It makes people healthier, but it’s not free.

“It’s a nice thing to think, and it seems like it should be true, but I don’t know of any evidence that preventive care actually saves money,” said Jonathan Gruber, an M.I.T. economist who helped design the universal-coverage plan in Massachusetts.

Here is the article by David Leonhardt.

Comments

Shouldn't preventive care be directed primarily towards ailments that are costly and degrade quality of life but are not instant killers? For example, diabetes, which causes lots of smaller ailments over a long period, but takes a while to kill? Meanwhile, let people smoke and eat red meat, since heart attacks are quick killers.

This is an excellent article, especially the end, but alas it will be ignored.

The article repeatedly ignores the time value of money. I'll trust that Gruber doesn't, but this is definitely not "an excellent article."

DK has hit the nail on the head. It is not true to say that "preventative care doesn't cut costs". It MAY be true to to say that "marginal increases in preventative care won't cut costs".

The answer here is that **today** most people who are going to get really sick and demand expensive care will do so regardless of the timeliness of the diagnosis. This may change in the future and change the equation quite a bit.

Preventive care can be justified even if it doesn't save money as long as people prefer
to stay healthy than to get cured after having been sick.

Dk: "preventive care won't do much for the Medicare age group"

Why do you believe that? Half of those age 65 can expect to live more than 15 years. As life expectancy will be increasing, it's likely that the median remaining life of a 65-year-old will soon be 20 years. Are you saying that they can't do any more in those 20 years to either improve or wreck their health?

thehova: "nurses and doctors are well compensated for their education levels."

Do you feel the salaries of nurses should be determined by the amount of education they have? Or should we allow their pay to be determined by the market clearing price? If the health care industry has thousands of nursing openings, how should they attract workers from other fields? or entice young people to endure the long and hard training required?

Nursing salaries are determined in a free and functioning market. What alternative would you propose?

Please do not lump together physicians and nurses in your criticism. Physicians and the AMA can strongly influence politicians to limit their supply. Nurses have no such strength.

"yeah, i'm down on the AMA."

Well, that's OK with me. I'm not anti-AMA, but I'm not defending them, either.

On the other hand, I sleep with a nurse every night, and that bias my opinion a little.

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