Sunday, November 16, 2003

Health Care Costs

My Canadian friend, the Show Me Canuck, has some nice points in this piece on Canadian and US drug prices. I am completely in agreement with him about patent length and meaningless follow on patents. The US Patent Office serves this country nearly as badly as the public school system.

As regards drug company advertising, well, I believe that is their right. It is also the government's right and your right and my right to refuse to purchase drugs from companies which spend too much on advertising.

As regards socialized medicine/required medical insurance he and I are very far apart. I think companies should not be allowed to provide insurance tax-free to their employees. Instead individuals should be able to buy however much insurance they want tax-free and not be forced to have the same amount. If I was a single man like my Canuck friend, I would only want to pay for catastrophic coverage, since I have to be nearly dead before I'll go to a doctor anyway and I am perfectly capable of treating nearly all my ills with over-the-counter stuff.

Many people in this country (I seem to remember Kim du Toit, for example, but can't find it on his or his wife's blog) choose to go without medical insurance, figuring they can manage their own health care costs, thank-you-very-much. And from the way I remember him describing it, I suspect he can.

I am not completely averse to government subsidies so that low-income families can afford reasonable medical insurance, but I would like to make a go at funding this through charitable contributions first. If we can't make that work then let it be subsidized, but I am in general very wary of government sponsored wealth redistribution schemes, since they seem always to degrade into voting oneself money. The Medicare Prescription boondoogle is like that. Sure, some poor old people will be helped, but so will all the rich old people and the middle class old people and the old people whose ungrateful kids should be helping them out. Who pays for it? Poor young people, among others.