Health Care Reform

This is a brilliant article in the New Yorker.

The point is, though it never explicitly says it, is that the problem with our health care system is not trial lawyers or even insurance companies: it’s the doctors.

This is the dirty little secret that no one really wants to touch, because doctors play the role in our culture that Hercules and Achilles played in the ancient world: romantic heroes who struggle against the gods. There is always at least one hit hospital show on television. Hardly an episode goes by where the doctors not only perform some miraculous surgery, but they impart sage wisdom on their patients as well. The patient isn’t just healed, they are reborn and you just know they will live happily ever after. It’s biblical.

I have nothing against doctors. I believe they should be well compensated, and I believe there should be more medical schools. I believe that the cost of that education should be subsidized, because it’s no wonder so many doctors enter the field with revenue on their brains when they come out of school a quarter million dollars in debt!

But they are not magic people. They are no more heroes than teachers, policemen, firemen, servicemen, or, even some lawyers. And they are just as susceptible to the concerns of having a house, paying for braces and college as the rest of us. In other words, they are human just like the rest of us.

The New Yorker article argues that the argument over public or private payment misses the point because until we fix how the *doctors* operate, the costs will go up. I think that’s engaging in a little bit of hyperbole to make a valid point. A private system without at least some government help will never cover everyone even if we suddenly develop the most cost effective health care system in the world. Even entertaining the thought that we can do that and the rest of the world is too stupid to have though of it or to have tried is the same old American exceptionalism (we think of America the same way we think of doctors) that gets us so often into trouble.