Sunday, July 15, 2007

Who was that masked man?

[ok, so the title of this post is an inside joke, and a bad one, plz to ignore that part]

Krugman's latest column, The Waiting Game [that link's broken, try this one], takes on that bugaboo of Socialized Medicine [TM], the loooooong waits for elective surgery in those other countries. You have to wait, like forevah dude, for a hip replacement in Canada, but you can get one right quick here in The Good Ol USofA.

Here's why we're quicker:
On the other hand, it’s true that Americans get hip replacements faster than Canadians. But there’s a funny thing about that example, which is used constantly as an argument for the superiority of private health insurance over a government-run system: the large majority of hip replacements in the United States are paid for by, um, Medicare.

That’s right: the hip-replacement gap is actually a comparison of two government health insurance systems. American Medicare has shorter waits than Canadian Medicare (yes, that’s what they call their system) because it has more lavish funding — end of story. The alleged virtues of private insurance have nothing to do with it.


Unknown said...

Krugman makes an excellent point. And one must also consider the ratio between medical service providers and patients in the U.S. and Canada.

hipparchia said...

there are plenty of places here in the US where there aren't enough doctors for the population, both rural and inner city areas.

i've forgotten where i've seen the number and i'm too lazy to go looking for them right now... we have a lot of specialists compared to other countries, but we're sorely lacking in general practitioners. a lot of us wouldn't need so much specialty care if we could just go to a regular ordinary everyday doctor when we first need one.

Keifus said...

My uncle (a physician) once berated my mom (his sister) for using this argument. General-purpose doctors aren't, evidently, the minimally trained lot. Family practice actually requires extra training; it's a specialty of its own.

On the other hand, you'd think about any doctor should be trained for first aid, to recognize bacterial infection, etc.


zhshgjq: Z's hash thingamajig (horrible)

hipparchia said...

true. even general practitioner is a specialty, but they're not the high-priced amd narrow breed of specialist. they're extremely valuable, even if our spending habits suggest that we don't value them as much as we ought to.

lots and lots of good basic care from very smart and very practiced generalists would go a long way towards fixing what's wrong with us.