Friday, July 24, 2009

Reynolds on Innovation

In the July 12, 2009 DC Examiner, Glenn Reynolds describes how nationalized health care will have a chilling effect on medical innovation. Here is an excerpt:
...But there's another cost that isn't getting enough attention. That's the degree to which a bureaucratized healthcare system will squash medical innovation just as we reach a point where dramatic progress is possible. To see how important that is, I don't have to look any farther than my own family.

...The normal critique of socialized medicine is to point out that people have to wait a long time for these kinds of treatments in places like Britain. And that's certainly a valid critique. I'm sure my mom and daughter would still be waiting for their treatments, while my father and wife would probably be dead.

The key point, though, is that these treatments didn't just come out out of the blue. They were developed by drug companies and device makers who thought they had a good market for things that would make people feel better.

But under a national healthcare plan, the "market" will consist of whatever the bureaucrats are willing to buy. That means treatment for politically stylish diseases will get some money, but otherwise the main concern will be cost-control. More treatments, to bureaucrats, mean more costs.
(Read the whole thing.)

This is a perfect example of the principle of the "seen vs. the unseen" as described by Bastiat. The effects of government regulations may save money (the seen), but at the cost of preventable suffering and deaths that we'll never hear about (the unseen).