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May 2 / Jonathan

Phillip Longman: Misdiagnosed

Reviewing Jonathan Cohn’s book, Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis—and the People Who Pay the Price, Phillip Longman suggests that we should be looking to the excellent VA hospital system, described in an earlier Longman piece, as opposed to following Cohn’s proposal of making everyone eligible for Medicare.

The key to the cure is understanding that there is more than enough money already sloshing around the health care system to ensure every American access to quality care. Unfortunately, the current practice of American medicine, whether financed by Medicare, insurance companies, or other sources, is stunningly inefficient, unsafe, unscientific, and getting worse. And that’s why it costs so bloody much.

Adopting the VA model, with its salaried doctors and its extensive use of electronic information technology and evidence-based medicine, would cure the American health care crisis. Throwing more money into the current, fragmented, profit-driven system without changing the actual practice of American medicine might ease the problems of the uninsured temporarily, but would also give us more inappropriate, sometimes dangerous, and ever-more-expensive care.

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