Monday, January 23, 2012

Health Care according to the WSJ

Special six page section in today's Wall St Journal devoted to "six crucial health care issues" with pro and con articles on each one. Somehow the Journal's six crucial issues" are not my crucial issued. The Journal lists:
1. Should everyone be required to have health insurance?
Of course the medics love this one, it would ease their burden of indigent care. Doctor's have to treat all patients, it looks really bad should they pitch someone out on the street 'cause they don't have any money. If everyone is required to buy health insurance, that problem goes away.
2. Should healthy people take cholesterol lowering drugs to prevent heart disease?
Jeeze, you'd think this question should have a solid statistical answer, you know compare life expectancy of people taking cholesterol lowering drugs with those that don't. Apparently this hasn't happened or the Journal was able to find some doctors who don't believe cholesterol lowering drugs actually do much. The drugs are pretty cheap, the one I'm on, Simvastatin, is only $4 a month from Walmart. Lipitor is coming off patent and should get cheap soon.
3. Should we create a medical ID number to tag patient's electronic medical records with?
This is a crucial question? Once your medical records are computerized, hackers will get them and sell them to employers, political enemies, nosy neighbors, the cops, and a whole bunch of people you would rather not see them. A special "unique" ID number won't make much difference.
4. Should doctors use email to communicate with patients?
I think they are trying to say that doctor's could cut back on office visits if they accepted and answered email queries from patients. This is crucial? In actual fact, the doctor is always going to say, "Why don't you come in and we'll have a look".
5. Should drug patents be extended?
That's obvious. The drug companies will say "Yes" and the rest of us will say "No".
6. Can "Accountable Care Organizations" (ACOs) raise quality and reduce costs?
Who knows? But this sounds like Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) all over again.

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