The Corner

Health Care

Do You Think Your Doctor Is Trying to Keep You Sick and Medicated?

(Unsplash)

Compared to other major expenditures of American households, spending on health care is a drag. In exchange for what you pay in rent or a mortgage, you get your home, and hopefully you feel good about your home. You probably have some vague happy feeling about your car. Hopefully, you enjoy some of the food you eat.

But no one enjoys health-care spending. Either it’s a regular checkup, and you’re hoping the doctor doesn’t find something wrong with you, or you’re sick, and you’re paying to get better. Doctors and nurses and clinic staff can make you feel relieved as your health improves, but it probably doesn’t feel like “fun” spending compared to going out to dinner or buying a new gadget. Spending money on health care rarely makes you happy.

In light of this, it’s understandable that Americans feel no particular warmth towards the current health-care system. Politicians cater to that general sense of dissatisfaction, by offering various reforms that will bring Americans to their preferred ideal, a system where they get the best care whenever they want it from their preferred doctors without any waiting, and somebody else pays all of the expenses.

Hawaii’s Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard offers a tweet this morning that lambastes the current system in surprisingly virulent terms: “Unfortunately, we don’t have healthcare in this country—we have sick care. We’ve created a massive for-profit entity incentivized to keep people sick and on drugs. As president, I will work to build a healthcare system incentivized to increase health and prevent & heal disease.”

Are doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals trying to keep you sick and on drugs? Do you think that they have some sort of quick-working cures and treatments and that they’re deliberately withholding them in order to ensure patients require additional medication? This line of thinking is one step away from web sites touting “miracle cures THEY don’t want you to know about.”

We can have — and are having — a discussion in the medical community about overprescribing, but doctors contend that the biggest reason they write prescriptions that may not be needed is pressure from patients. For understandable reasons, some doctors became more comfortable writing prescriptions for opioid painkillers than telling patients to live with pain. A key element of reducing overprescribing medications is changing patients’ expectations, which is not easily achieved from the Oval Office.

Gabbard also appears to be reviving the claim that preventative care will be the most important solution to America’s health problems. Unfortunately, the research data tells a different story. Wellness programs do not decrease health-care costs. They may be a good idea and worth the cost, but it’s time for presidents and aspiring presidents to stop seeing preventative care as a — no pun intended — panacea. And no healthcare system can “incentivize” you to “increase health” more than your own concern about your own health.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More