Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Retired Doc's Suggestion for Medical Curriculum,Part 5

Medical and non-medical authors decry the amount of money spent on health care in the US. We cannot afford this and we cannot afford that. We are admonished that we spend more than is spent per capita in Europe or Canada as if that comparison should be the gold standard.Medical students not only read this criticism but likely hear it from their professors, at least from those who are of the left leaning persuasion. Medical students should not graduate into a profession that they perceive is a drain on the country's economy. They need to be aware of the "other side of Healthcare Expenditures" This- in fact- is the title of an excellent piece in the Johns Hopkins Advanced Studies In Medicine for Ferurary 2005. (This article would be required reading for the medical students course in basic economics as it impacts medicine) The main point of the article is so obvious that one wonders why it even has to be made. (It has to be made because there has been so much nonsense to the contrary said and published that a major misconception has become part of "conventional wisdom"). Dr. Hough, the article's author, speaks correctly of the healthcare "industry" as a powerful job creator, a major economic force, a high productivity, high tech industry with above average wages as well as being low polluting and relatively insensitive to the business cycle. In short, this is the kind of business you would expect government to encourage and celebrate. Hough quotes one study which estimated that 1.9 billion dollars was directly created by Hopkins to Maryland in 2002. And that money percolates through the economy. He quotes other impressive figure from various areas in the country. Money spent on health care is no more a drain on the economy that is money spent on automobiles or housing or food or cosmetics. The bogus nature of statements such as " the society cannot afford so many MRIs ( or whatevers) should be apparent not only to medical students but to everyone. Medical students, or physicians for that matter, should not be ashamed that there are more MRIs in Houston that in Canada. Canadians should be.

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