Friday, October 24, 2003

Lifetime TV has a petition up urging Congress to ban what they call "drive-through" mastectomies, defined as

the practice in which women are forced out of the hospital sometimes only hours after breast cancer surgery ... still in pain, groggy with anesthesia and with drainage tubes still in place

because their insurance companies won't pay for a couple of days in the hospital for recovery.

Let's take a step back. The United States has "market-driven" medical care which isn't really, as most people don't have much of a choice about their insurance provider. Which leads to cases like these in which the insurance companies are unwilling to pay for a decent standard of care -- and both the doctors and patients are stuck.

So, on the one hand, Congress could try to deal with this by restructuring the health care system to change the incentives of the insurance companies, or broadly mandate some general minimal standards of care. But that would involve setting up a regulatory body to manage the details, and we all know how they hate that.

So on the other hand, Congress could do what Lifetime TV is asking them to, and start setting detailed standards of care themselves, for breast cancer... and then what? Every other medical procedure on which the insurance companies are also demanding shoddy care? That wouldn't involve Congress setting up a regulatory body -- it would involve Congress becoming a regulatory body.

But hey, in reproductive medicine at least, the Republican Congress seems to think they already know better than the experts. So, why wouldn't you want them messing around with your AIDS drug regimen?

via BoingBoing

Note: third paragraph clarified a bit from the original version...


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