Sunday, March 30, 2008

you really aren't sick - but the health care sector is

A very good item from Sharon Brownlee about the practice of the medical profession - doctors, hospitals, pharmaceuticals - to make more and more physical conditions into "diseases" - the better to "treat" you for. And to CHARGE you for.

With risks, since they often prescribe "medicines" for some "condition" - like osteopenia, which the medical sector dreamed up by basically saying that the slightest decline in bone mass from when you are 30 means you are charging down the path for osteoporosis when you're 70 - that often have side effects. Then they treat you for the side effect with a medicine that creates another, and hey - that's how you end up with somebody taking a dozen pills a day to treat some mild "conditions."

Though Brownlee doesn't focus too much on the economics of this trend, doctors and drug companies do this because THEY profit from it. Personally, that looks like a violation of the Hippocratic Oath to me, which reads in part: To practice and prescribe to the best of my ability for the good of my patients, and to try to avoid harming them.

Again, the medical sector is not like other sectors. First, the asymmetry in information is massive - your doctor has 10 years of school behind his/her diagnosis and recommendation for treatment, and knows how to read the tests. You don't. Second, this isn't an industry where harm is limited to financial harm - people's bodies are at stake here.

It's time to arrange for a medical system that really puts health outcomes first, and doesn't emphasize profitable medicines and procedures at the expense of patients' health or pocketbook. It's time to arrange for a medical system that does not have one leg of it - the private health insurance sector - base its entire profitability on DENYING access to medical treatment whenever possible.



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