Health Care Productivity
By Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen has an interesting post on the comparison of the productivity of medical care in the U.S. vs. other countries. One brief excerpt:
Americans pay more but get better health care in return. We die sooner because we eat too much and exercise too little, among other facts.
Among, the many interesting links in his post, there is a paper by Richard D. Miller, Jr. and H. D. Frech, III which says
We found that increased pharmaceutical consumption is both economically and statistically significantly related to increased life expectancy at the ages of 40 and 60…In contrast, we found no economically or statistically significant effect of non-pharmaceutical health care consumption.
As Cowen points out, if you combine these findings with the fact that most drug research is done in America, then the United States deserves the credit for most of the productivity in health care not just here but around the world.
My cynical belief is that even if this were true, and could be demonstrated, many people would still favor drug price controls. People resent drug company profits, and they take drug research for granted. This would illustrate a phenomenon that I called Hating the Solution.
For Discussion. How much influence do you think econometric studies should have on people’s opinions about which is the best health care system? Would you change your mind if a statistical study contradicted your opinion?