Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Medicine

Why It’s Hard to Calculate the Cost of Single Payer in the United States

Lately there has been some back and forth in the states over the expected cost of single payer healthcare. There is a lot of disagreement over how much single payer will cost because single payer grants the state a monopoly over the healthcare system. This means that the state can dictate how much it is going to pay its doctors, its administrators, its nurses, its drug and equipment manufacturers, and so on. Because the state can dictate the cost of single payer, the true cost of the proposal depends on how much the particular people implementing the proposal intend to spend.

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How Single Payer Healthcare Works and What’s Been Going on in Britain

Today I’d like to get at some of the deeper intricacies of single payer healthcare systems by telling you a story about what’s going on with Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). If you’re American, this post will shed some light on how Bernie Sanders’ system potentially works. If you’re British, this is where you’ll get my view on the junior doctors’ strike and what the conservatives are trying to do with the NHS.

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Martin Shkreli is the Product of a Broken Healthcare System

A lot of people are very angry with Martin Shkreli. Shkreli is CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Turing recently purchased the rights to Daraprim, a drug that treats toxoplasmosis, a condition that poses the greatest threat to people with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS patients. 4,400 people are hospitalized with the condition each year in the US, and about 327 people die on average each year. Once Turing acquired Daraprim, it promptly raised the price from $13.50 per pill to $750. Turing and Shkreli claimed that the price increase was necessary to make a profit and to pay for research and development into new toxoplasmosis drugs, but the medical establishment and the public strongly disagree. Dr. David Relman, chief of infectious diseases at VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, told Fortune:

We are not in dire need of new drugs for toxoplasmosis right now. There is no significant drug resistance problem with toxoplasmosis. We do not need them to be undertaking some self-serving marketing campaign. There is no public health need for such. This is simply about greed.

The HIV Medicine Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America concurred, writing a joint letter condemning the move. But in going after Shkreli and Turing individually, we’re collectively missing the point–they are a symptom of a much larger prescription drug problem in America.

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Candidate Evaluations: Ben Carson

Despite the continued explosive popularity of my UK election post, I am now drawing down my comment responses and focusing on doing new work for my regular readers (though newbies are more than welcome to join in). This means resuming the Candidate Evaluations series and covering Ben Carson, who recently declared his intent to run for president. If you’re new to this series, the goal is to examine a US presidential candidate’s background, policy history, and explicit statements in an attempt to figure out whether the candidate would actually be any good at being president. Too often, no one bothers to ask these questions, focusing instead on electability or likability. The series often ventures into fun digressions–for Rand Paul, we talked about the Austrian school, for Hillary Clinton, we talked about welfare reform and financial deregulation during the 90’s. I’ve also covered Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and–my favorite so far–Bernie Sanders.

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