Friday, January 28, 2005

Newt Gingrich's Cure for What Ails Us: Comparison Shopping!

The O'Reilly Factor (Fox News)
"Newt Gingrich on Health Care and Americans"

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, a man who bailed out on not one but two wives with major health problems (cancer and multiple sclerosis), explains how -- through savvy shopping -- we can avoid that nasty thing called universal healthcare coverage.
GINGRICH: The number one thing to do is to have a right to know that -- so you know before you go in a hospital how much does it cost, what's their quality.

Well, maybe for my desperately needed liposuction and Newt's rodent-teeth resharpening, but what about Grandpa's aortic aneurysm? Should he work through the searing pain of his ruptured aorta and phone around first? Let his tingling fingers do the walking?
GINGRICH: The minute you learn that, you begin to change behavior.

Now Newt left this a little unclear. Whose behavior is changing? Mine? Grandpa's? Or that of the Very Big Chain of Hospitals, Inc?
The same thing with drugs. If you had the same right to know about the cost of drugs and their effectiveness that you have with airlines, prices would come down.

Okay. Grandpa and I get the point about shopping around. But analyzing clinical efficacy data is tricky for Grandpa just now, especially with the blurred vision from the blood loss associated with his aortic rupture. Plus, Mr. Speaker, the airline industry, trust me on this, is not the best economic comparator to cite.
GINGRICH: Well, I think if you design the right model, you'd -- you could get the basic -- drug basically for free, but you'd also have an incentive to get a less expensive drug, and, if you wanted the most expensive drug, you'd pay more.
O'REILLY: So like a menu. You get a menu of prescription drugs.

Let's see. To economize, Grandpa could skip the first-choice drug and try to save 34.7% with the drug that has a 71.5% chance of curing the peritonitis that developed after the aortic rupture, or save 28.3% and go with the drug that has an 80% chance.
I don't want to alarm Grandpa, but do these projected savings factor in funeral expenses?

No comments: