Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Recommended Reading: Economics & Healthcare

Over this long holiday weekend I read a number of excellent articles on the topic of healthcare and economics. I would like to recommend them to you:

The first is an article published by the NY Times by Nobel Prize Winning Economist Paul Krugman titled How Did Economists Get So Wrong. Essentially this is an article explaining the problems with macro-economic theory. Don't let the subject fool you, the article is very accessible.

The second is an article by David Brooks, also of the NY Times, titled Let's Get Fundemental, in which he advises President Obama on how to reform the healthcare system. The man always offers sound, coherent and calm advise. Highly recommended.

The third and final recommendation is an article published by The Atlantic, titled How American Health Care Killed My Father. Here's a brief quote from the article:
Keeping Dad company in the hospital for five weeks had left me befuddled. How can a facility featuring state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment use less-sophisticated information technology than my local sushi bar? How can the ICU stress the importance of sterility when its trash is picked up once daily, and only after flowing onto the floor of a patient’s room? Considering the importance of a patient’s frame of mind to recovery, why are the rooms so cheerless and uncomfortable? In whose interest is the bizarre scheduling of hospital shifts, so that a five-week stay brings an endless string of new personnel assigned to a patient’s care? Why, in other words, has this technologically advanced hospital missed out on the revolution in quality control and customer service that has swept all other consumer-facing industries in the past two generations?
We are all wrapped up in the big political fights over health care, but perhaps there is much to be done even with simple common sense and a little bit of innovation and openness.

And one more:
"Indeed, I suspect that our collective search for villains—for someone to blame—has distracted us and our political leaders from addressing the fundamental causes of our nation’s health-care crisis. All of the actors in health care—from doctors to insurers to pharmaceutical companies—work in a heavily regulated, massively subsidized industry full of structural distortions. They all want to serve patients well. But they also all behave rationally in response to the economic incentives those distortions create. Accidentally, but relentlessly, America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being. That emphasize treatment over prevention. That disguise true costs. That favor complexity, and discourage transparent competition based on price or quality. That result in a generational pyramid scheme rather than sustainable financing. And that—most important—remove consumers from our irreplaceable role as the ultimate ensurer of value."
I strongly recommend you read this well written article for yourself.

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1 comment:

asgreen said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I put aside the Paul Krugman one to read later, but now I definitely will.