Former president George W. Bush, widely regarded as a model of physical fitness, received a coronary artery stent on Tuesday. Few facts are known about the case, but what is known suggests the procedure was unnecessary....We'll make sure nobody gets more care than they "need," as determined at a distance by experts like the author.
Although this may seem like an issue important only to the former president, consider the following: Although the price of excessive screening of so-called VIPs is usually paid for privately, follow-up tests, only “necessary” because of the initial unnecessary screening test, are usually paid for by Medicare, further stressing our health-care system. The media coverage of interventions like Mr. Bush’s also leads patients to pressure their own doctors for unwarranted and excessive care.
We were recently talking about how biotechnology struck me as a possible driver of jobs and wealth on a large scale, provided we could overcome the problem of ensuring that the elderly (and near-elderly) continued to be able to consume new biotech products and services at a rate that would justify heavy and continual investment. Now socialized medicine is one way that we might be able to ensure that, although hopefully not the only nor the best way.
If we were going to accept some sort of government-led health care system, then, it should be more like Bush II's "Medicare Part D expansion," and less like Obama's system of rationing care -- targeted at the elderly and near-elderly, and designed to enable them to consume the products of biotechnological innovation. The young would pay higher costs for this in taxes, but they'd at least have jobs out of which to afford these higher costs -- unlike with the current system, which is destroying jobs rather than encouraging investment in new jobs. As a kind of side benefit, the young would also get to use the advances in medicine themselves when they are older.
What we'll get instead is death panels, higher costs, fewer jobs, and a system designed not to enable but to limit the consumption that would lead to greater innovation and investment.
In other words, as usual with this crowd, we'll get the worst of both worlds: everything we didn't want, in exchange for nothing we might have wanted.