nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Doctors And Health Care Workers On Strike Here And Abroad

Cost increases in health care are a global phenomenon, here and in single-payer systems.

Universal health care, whether government regulated or single-payer, like free-market health care, is vulnerable to rapidly rising cost.

Those experts who castigate US health care and cite figures for how much a US family pays for health care as opposed to other countries fail to point out that in those other countries families get taxed more to provide the "free" care.

Not unexpectedly, countries like Great Britain and Germany, whose health care systems have been lauded by US reformers, are experiencing the same cost problems.  Even with rationing care based on cost, as Great Britain does, the pressures for more money to provide care are rising.

Now the health care workers are starting to feel the pinch.  A strike of workers over contract negotiations at the Univ of Massachusetts is planned--in our pioneer universal coverage state.  Doctors in MA have also issued a warning that increased costs of running a medical practice combined with overrun emergency rooms are threatening access to, and quality of, medical care in the state.

Finally, 15,000 doctors went on strike (Bloomberg Businessweek, May 17) this week in Germany.  This group, who represent about a third of the physicians employed by local governments, are seeking a pay raise.  Patients are being advised to seek care from university hospitals.

Will we see more of these strikes and warnings in the future?  Probably.

The noose is tightening on elements of health care in this country and abroad.  I've said many times in this blog that the underlying problems of health care cost are not addressed by economic efficiency or organizational changes.  Until we decide how much a human life is worth and how much we owe to one another--as philosophical issues--we won't solve health care's problems.

Doc D

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