23 July 2008

In Praise of Modern Medicine

This has been on my mind for a couple of days now.

It all started with a bull session at work during shift change when the subject of insurance came up. One of my young, therefore liberal, co-workers opined that the Benevolent Federal Government (yeah, about that bridge...) should ensure that everyone had health insurance.

His point was that the uninsured costs us all in the fact that hospitals and doctors charge us more to cover those who don't pay. My reply was that non-life threatening medical care should be dependent on the ability to pay, period.

I then informed this young innocent that my wife, having been diagnosed with lung cancer in December, would likely have been near death by now under a socialized medical scheme. As it is, I told him, I would be willing to pay every cent I make for the rest of my life if that's what it took for the results we have gotten.

Under a socialized system the care she needed either would not have been available or would have been available at a future date based on a first-come first-served basis. She would likely have died on the waiting list.

As it is, without the corporate health insurance policy we would have had huge bills to pay. Thankfully the bills are manageable and well within our ability to stay ahead of them.

Under a socialized system the techniques and medicines that have been used so far likely would have never been developed, or would be prohibitively expensive and so not available to the commoners such as ourselves.

As it is the medicines and techniques she desperately needed were available, and they have done their work.

Our system may not be perfect. It is horrendously expensive, but it is readily available to all who need the care. Most importantly, the care is immediate, and for the most part effective. There are some things that are yet beyond the understanding of medicine to cure, but what we have is the best that is available in all the known world.

These advances are not without cost. Doctors and drug companies may make huge profits but I will never say they don't deserve them. Doctors gain their skills only after long and brutal hours of training and residency. Drug companies invest untold millions in their quest for new and better medicines, at great risk. The result is longer and better lives for us all.

They earn every penny.

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