Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bernstein On Innovation

David Bernstein raises a good point on medical innovation that more politicians should be thinking about:
I don't have the expertise to discuss the various health care reform proposals that are being bandied about, but I do know that it's important to ensure that whatever is implemented doesn't interfere with innovation.

Consider my own immediate family. I was born a month premature, a bit over three pounds, in my parents' bedroom after an extremely short (like 5 minutes) labor. I was rushed to the hospital, where I stayed for over a month in a "warmer". A decade or two earlier, I would have been a goner. Two and a half decades later, my cousin's son survived being born three months premature and weighing less than two pounds...

[Multiple other examples]

...Oh, and you can add my wife, who not too long ago would have died due to complications in one of her pregnancies. Indeed, before the invention of ultrasounds, the doctors wouldn't have even known about the problem until it was way too late.

Given all this, it's not surprising that I get a bit antsy when I hear some politicians talk as if health care is a fixed good, and the only question is how to distribute it properly.
Fortunately, we already know what system has led to innovation and advancement in the rest of the American economy. It was the free market.

Perhaps we should let it work in health care as well.