Sunday, September 7, 2008

Positives of Our Health Care System

I just read a debate between Malcolm Gladwell (Tipping Point, Blink) and Adam Gopnik., both are writers for The New Yorker. Each has lived in Canada giving them first-hand experience with the system put in place there. I sided with Gladwell in this debate. He favors our system. This may seem inconsistent with my previous posts, but keep in mind I'm still molding my opinion. How I start thinking isn't always how I end up, I love that about learning :-). Anyway I'll cut and paste my favorite point Malcolm Gladwell made and link you all to the article which shows up in Washinton Monthly published in 2000 (sorry it's a little old, but still very relevant and insightful).

said Gladwell:
"If you look at the level of medical innovation in the world in the last 25 years, virtually everything comes from America. Absent America, medicine in the world is in the dark; it is retarded; it is at a level that all of us would find unacceptable. What is happening right now is that all these cheap single-payer systems are essentially poaching. They are cherry-picking off the American system. The American system is pumping money into research, has got this free market system which is incredibly dynamic and incredibly innovative. Everyone else just sits back and cherry picks all of the things we come up with. What happens if there's no America tomorrow? What happens if we junk our system? Where does medical progress come from? "

"I would like to say as my closing comment that what impresses me most about health care is the extent to which more is going to change around in medicine and health care in the next 15 years than changed in the last hundred. I think, for example, the hospital as we know it is dead. I think that drugs become infinitely more important in the next 10 years than they've been previously. All kinds of diseases are going to be transferred from the surgeon to the pharmacist. What I'm most concerned about is what kind of health-care system is the most flexible, the most willing to deal with these changes, the quickest to adapt to them, the most innovative. To me, it's an open and shut case that single-payer systems are extremely inflexible. That is a great cost. The Canadian system has been very slow even to catch up with the change in the last 20 years. And I worry that if we were to move in this country towards piecemeal social engineering we would in some way compromise the system's flexibility at a time when, to me, the most important thing in the next 15 years is going to be flexibility.

We're about to figure out the human genome, for God's sake. Everything hinges on the speed at which we are able to adapt and bring to market that sort of knowledge base. I'm just terrified of tinkering with such an extraordinarily dynamic system at a time when dynamism is, to me, the paramount. I mean, this is the crux of our disagreement. You're impressed with what the medical system is now capable of providing. I am, on the contrary, impressed by what the medical system has not yet provided. And that's why I favor a system that is, for all its faults, incredibly dynamic; and you favor a system that, for all its faults, is incredibly good at delivering the status quo."

Read the complete article (it's lengthy): Canada Vs. U.S.