Is healthcare effective? There is no question that, around the world, basic health care is effective. I will let the amazing Hans Rosling show us the good news:
Now for the bad news: most marginal (extra) health-care dollars do not bring more health. The Rand health care study extensively compared people spending different amounts on health care and found no difference in outcomes. Studies of states where health care costs differ widely for the same drugs/treatments show no difference in outcomes. The economics of health care are highly skewed, manipulated, and gamed. Doctors still don’t wash their hands! It should come as no surprise that doctors often treat according to what makes the most money, not what is best for patients. Canadians with Cystic Fibrosis live, on average, 10 years longer than Americans with the same condition. In the US, we are wasting between a quarter and half of our healthcare dollars each year, much of it on excessive administration, the most complex cases and end-of-life for elderly people, though those costs have started to come down in the last decade. Canada’s administrative fees are far lower than those in the US. Health care reform is necessary to save the US from spending ever more and getting ever less.
Should we get regular check-ups? The studies are clear on this: They do more harm than good, both economically and medically. While there are a few outlying conditions that could be caught early in a check-up, it also puts many people on a slippery slope of medical intervention. A cost-benefit analysis says check-ups are a losing proposition. Same for dental check-ups. The rule is: don’t see a doctor unless you have symptoms you think won’t go away otherwise. The human body runs well on most fuel, without vitamins and other interventions. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s generally a good one.
Are antibiotics a serious problem? Yes. Most antibiotics are given to livestock, get into our food supply, and cause antibiotic resistance. This is bad. New strains of bacteria have already rendered several classes of antibiotics ineffective. Antibiotics have been critical to the success of the human species, yet 80 percent now goes into animals we eat and 30 percent of prescriptions are unnecessary. The front line in this war is in hospitals, where the most potent antibiotics are creating the next generation of superbugs we won’t be able to fight later. Even antibiotics in soap could hasten the ineffectiveness of today’s antibiotics. Watch this shocking video to get a sense of how quickly germs can mutate …
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