National health care [was Re: Medical technology and cryonics]

Robert Horton horton at molbio
Thu Jun 4 15:48:12 EST 1992

Because the main thrust behind the movement for government-sponsored health
care in the US seemd to be the outrageous cost of this care, I have a few
questions for the Net regarding costs (This may not be the best place for
this discussion, but hey, I didn't start it. If anyone has a better-suited
newsgroup, I'm open to suggestions...)

A Famous Heart Surgeon I know told me that an artificial valve which used
to cost $12 now costs THOUSANDS of $. The additional cost is presumably due
to liability insurance; it is the exact same valve.

QUESTION #1: In a free country, shouldn't I be allowed to buy the $12 valve
if I choose to assume that responsibility?

A med. student I know called up an administrative office in one of the local
hospitals and asked if they could give her an idea of the contribution that
insurance costs make to the overall cost of health care. She got a fuzzy
answer to the effect that they COULDN'T tell her some things because the
accounting is so intertwined, and they WOULDN'T tell her other things because
they didn't want the competition to find out about how they managed costs.
I gladly admit that I'm no accountant, but it's hard to imagine that it can
REALLY be THAT complicated:

QUESTION #2: How much of the overall cost of medical care is attributable to
liability/insurance? (Any coherent studies of the subject?)

My first advisor in grad. school (who was an M.D./Ph.D.) contracted colon
cancer, and was told he had six months to live and that conventional
therapies offered little hope. He wrote to a company in California which
was investigating Tumor Necrosis Factor, and asked if he volunteer for human
studies. He received the response that they 'weren't cleared for Phase I
trials yet', but that he should contact them again in 'about two years' (!).
Needless to say, he didn't get around to it. The FDA was protecting us poor
ignorant masses from unproven therapies. There are also numerous drugs in 
use in Europe that we are protected from in the U.S..

QUESTION #3: How much does it cost to have the FDA protect us?
Bob Horton            /\ "Crash programs fail because of the theory that
U. of Minnesota, CBS  || with nine women pregnant you get a baby a month" 
1479 Gortner Ave.    /||\                    -Werner von Braun. 
St. Paul, MN 55108    ^^   horton at molbio.cbs.umn.edu/(612) 624-3790

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