Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When a toothache is fatal

This post by Megan McArdle is absolutely required reading for anybody interested in arguing for true free markets in health care. An excerpt:

A commenter says that according to local news reports, he was quoted a price of $27 for the antibiotic (sounds like erythromycin, then), and $3 for a painkiller. I believe the former, but I have a very hard time swallowing the latter. I mean, I guess I could be wrong, but I am very skeptical that there is a pharmacy out there that sells more than a dose or two of any prescription painkiller for $3. If he chose to take two vicodin over antibiotics, when he must have known that this was not a long-term solution, I have to question his decision-making even more deeply.

But what this illustrates is just how hard it is to make a decision when in extreme levels of pain. I believe the legal term is "diminished capacity". Now, this sort of tragedy can happen under nationalized health care too. But imagine what happens if this type of decision making is extended to emergency rooms?

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