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Health Care Reform

Discussion in 'All-Star Threads' started by bennyl, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. Dcc001

    Dcc001
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    I'll take this moment to interject some purely personal musings. I often wonder about the notion that health care should be 'for profit.' Really, should it?

    On the one hand, I believe that we have a responsibility to make sure that everyone has their basic needs met. I don't want to see orphans with bloated stomachs dying in the street, nor do I want to see a person who's done everything 'right' their whole life be bankrupted - physically and financially - because they had the misfortune to be in a bad car accident.

    On the other hand, I recognize that self interest is one of the only real motivators. There was a great quote on The West Wing. Marlee Matlin's character was arguing this point, and she said: "If the government had been in charge of medical research, we'd have the world's most efficient Iron Lung but no Polio vaccination."

    The key is to somehow combine the two. I'm uneasy with the idea that people only become doctors to strike it rich [I know they don't, unless it's plastic surgery or something. I'm exploiting a stereotype to make a point]. I'm also uneasy with the idea that the entire health care system as it exists now profits only if we are ill, and has no real incentive to keep us well.

    Again, this is something I think about often in conjunction with the topic of welfare, aid, etc. The people who most desperately need help are often those who would never ask, and somehow find a way to soldier on day after day. Those that are sucking the proverbial teat are those that have never tried to help themselves, and are instead institutionalized to the point where exploiting the system has become their expertise.

    You can look at any marginalized group in society and note this. For example, Native Americans. They got royally fucked for decades and are now in a state of extreme poverty and chaos. I'm not debating this, nor is this thread addressing a topic like this. I bring it up because it raises this question: now that the situation is completely fucked, how do you fix it? Giving them every kind of tax credit isn't helping. Nor is preferential treatment with hiring practices, free university education, free land, etc. etc. A disproportionate number of Canadian prisoners are Native.

    The same issue plays out in healthcare. Throwing money at a problem just makes it bureaucratic. It creates a reliance on the system for those within it, making a very difficult cycle to break.

    If anyone has a workable, implementable solution to this problem speak up. It's going to be the topic of my Master's thesis. What measures are best taken to fix something, once it's fucked up, and provide the desired results?
     
  2. Crazy Wolf

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    See, what's interesting about that particular example is that Jonas Salk was funded by the March of Dimes, a charity. As in, a group not motivated by self-interest or the profit margin. Although government was not the solution for development of the vaccine, the government did spearhead the distribution effort.
     
  3. Dcc001

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    I can only relay my experience with "charity."

    I lived and volunteered in an African country for six months. I saw the following while there:

    - A systemic reliance on the goods provided by the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations). The economies could not function without the goods provided by aid.

    - A disturbing mentality amongst the country's "best and brightest." The NGOs were typically the biggest industry in town; the best jobs, the most benefits. Consequently, kids who were lucky enough to attend high levels of school wanted to graduate and work for a large NGO. Not because they wanted to help, but for the same reason you or I want to work in Oil & Gas or consulting: it's where the money is. It's a self-sustaining cycle.

    - NGOs become an entrenched business. What should be a stop-gap, a temporary thing, becomes a part of the local economy and self-sustaining. They no longer have any desire to fix the problem they're created to solve; if they did that, they'd be out of a job.

    - NGOs (and all charity, fundamentally) serves the donors, not the recipients. Aid comes with strings. People want to see results on their terms, which may or may not coincide with the needs of the community. And in that struggle, the guy holding the purse strings always wins.

    If you can come up with a model for a charity that doesn't result to some degree in what I just mentioned, I'm all for it. My personal view of charity and aid, however, are that they don't fix a damn thing.
     
  4. Crazy Wolf

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    Polio.

    Of course charity and aid all result in some degree of what was mentioned. But I don't see that as being a big enough reason not to have charities. I'd rather have one guy cheat to get free meals than have 20 people starve.
     
  5. Dcc001

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    That's missing the point I was trying to make. Large-scale charity, from what I've seen, does more harm than good.

    And this is splitting hairs, but the Polio vaccination is atypical of many diseases. It was discovered early by a deeply moral man who refused to believe in charging for it. What are the odds that's going to happen with a highly complex disease, like HIV/AIDS? When it takes such massive funding to even understand it?

    And your point about giving out free meals to prevent starvation is flawed. I won't derail this thread any further than I already have, except to say look what happens when the IMF lands and gives out free food...they immediately collapse the local farming economy, thus often times creating a systemic dependence on aid. The problem with aid, from what I've seen, is that all it creates is a greater need for more aid. I maintain that the same cycle happens with charity.
     
  6. Crazy Wolf

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    I was trying to use a simple sentence construction, and not use the terms "welfare" or "medical care". Giving out food is by itself not enough to stop starvation from happening again, but if used in conjunction with programs that encourage farming for food or conserve water then it can be of great help.

    So, the odds of a medical researcher who spends their entire life looking for a cure for a disease also being a robber baron is high? I'm not saying they'll necessarily give their life's work away for nothing, but I doubt that the price will be too exorbitant. Where there's a will, there's a way, and where there's a money-maker, there's industrial espionage.
    If we're going to split hairs, the vaccine for polio wasn't exactly discovered early. When you go over a century from disease naming to finding a vaccine, you kinda lose the "early" factor.
     
  7. Dcc001

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    It's not just the medical researcher. It takes so much funding for labs and tests and trials and everything else...every one of those people and companies involved has to get their cut. If the 'profit' motivator was removed, how many would stay? Or, if the government was in charge and those same people got paid the same wage regardless of what they developed, how revolutionary and progressive would their inventions be?

    "Early" in terms of any disease curing. Polio was amongst the first vaccines to be developed and distributed.

    I'm not in any way versed on medical research or vaccine production, but I once heard a medical researcher refer to Polio and Smallpox as "low hanging fruit," meaning they were 'easily' cured in relation to the complex diseases plaguing the world today, like cancer and HIV/AIDS. Sorry if the "early" was misinterpreted.