A third of the world has been infected, though. Tiny cysts nested in one’s brain and muscles attest. The parasite Toxoplasmosis gondii comes into us by undercooked meat, well-intentioned placentas, gardening soil, or, most infamously, cats. It is the reason that pregnant women are not supposed to empty litter boxes. Do Cats Control My Mind? ☀
A day spent as an inpatient at an American hospital costs on average more than $4,000, five times the charge in many other developed countries, according to the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurance industries. The most expensive hospitals charge more than $12,500 a day. And at many of them, including California Pacific Medical Center, emergency rooms are profit centers. That is why one of the simplest and oldest medical procedures — closing a wound with a needle and thread — typically leads to bills of at least $1,500 and often much more. As Hospital Prices Soar, a Single Stitch Tops $500 ☀
Before antibiotics, five women died out of every 1,000 who gave birth. One out of nine people who got a skin infection died, even from something as simple as a scrape or an insect bite. Three out of ten people who contracted pneumonia died from it. Ear infections caused deafness; sore throats were followed by heart failure. In a post-antibiotic era, would you mess around with power tools? Let your kid climb a tree? Have another child? Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future ☀
Hospital ERs don’t have to treat you. They just have to patch you up to the point where you’re not actively dying. A Galveston Med Student Describes Life and Death in the “Safety Net” ☀
Why does health care cost so much in America? Ask Harvard's David Cutler ☀
- Paul Solman: Why does health care cost so much in America?
- David Cutler: Let me give you three reasons why. The first one is because the administrative costs of running our health care system are astronomical. About one quarter of health care cost is associated with administration, which is far higher than in any other country.
- Paul Solman: What's the next highest?
- David Cutler: About 10, 15 percent. Just to give you one example, Duke University Hospital has 900 hospital beds and 1,300 billing clerks. The typical Canadian hospital has a handful of billing clerks. Single-payer systems have fewer administrative needs. That's not to say they're better, but that's just on one dimension that they clearly cost less. What a lot of those people are doing in America is they are figuring out how to bill different insurers for different systems, figuring out how to collect money from people, all of that sort of stuff.
- The second reason health care costs so much in America is that the U.S. spends more than other countries do on many of the same things. Drugs are the most commonly noted item, where a branded drug will cost much more in the U.S. than in other countries. But, for example, doctors also earn more for doing the same thing in the U.S. than they do in other countries, and a lot of suppliers charge more for things like durable medical equipment in the U.S. than in other countries.
So these are the two foundations for the conservative perspective on these issues. First, that our health care sector is oversubsidized and a great deal of health care spending is unnecessary, and second, that controlling this spending through the kind of price controls that other nations employ has long-term costs that are unquantifiable but potentially enormous. Which in turn leads to the basic calculus in favor of the catastrophic alternative: That when it comes to long-run human welfare, for the poor as well as the rich, X (the cost-inflation reductions achieved by cost sharing and price transparency) plus Y (the gains to innovation from maintaining or increasing the role of market forces in American health care) is greater than Z (the costs, financial and medical, of not covering as much care for low-income people as a single payer system would). Why Not Medicaid For All? ☀
Sure, for the time being, polls will continue to show significant disapproval, but that disapproval is based largely on ignorance, including with respect to the individual mandate. It must be added that much of the disapproval is on the left, where I am, where Obamacare is unpopular or unfavorable only because it doesn’t go far enough, because it isn’t a single-payer system. This disapproval is very different than the disapproval on the right, and actually it’s more appropriate to combine support for Obamacare with support for more progressive reform. This would give a more accurate view of the state of public opinion, one that is decidedly anti-Republican. In any event, yes, there is currently significant unfavorability, and Hiltzik is right: This is largely because Republicans have been more successful at denouncing the law then Democrats have been at defending it / advocating for it. And I would add that they’ve been more successful because they’ve been shameless lying about it — you know, the nonsense about “death panels,” about huge premiums, about not being able to pick your doctor, about the government denying you treatment, and so on. Over time, I expect Obamacare’s popularity to increase significantly. Most major reforms face initial skepticism, after all. This is no different. Obamacare is actually really popular ☀
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