The technological advancements in the last 100 years far outpace and outmatch the advancement of the last 10,000. This is a fact. We now have ways to treat all sorts of disease from hepatitis C to easing the suffering of AIDS patients. The great news is that this is only getting better as we move more and more into the future. Greater advancements will mean more treatable diseases and longer lives and hopefully less suffering from humanity. The real problems will come with food and water shortages reach a real critical level, but that is a conversation for another post.
With all this good news coming of greater medical advancements the aftermath will undoubtedly bring opportunity and with opportunity the window will be opened for humans to make choices based on their personal moral incentives. They could be greedy or self righteous. Unfortunately gauging by the past actions the trend has been towards total exploitation. The new drugs being developed could really save the lives of millions of people if they were administered at a lower cost or with less litigation through the insurance companies.
President Obama’s notion of an affordable healthcare was a noble idea. The real issue is that both systems cannot prevail in a free market economy. The implication is that my tax dollars are going to these large insurance companies but instead of me paying them directly, the US government is with our tax dollars and credits. The more sensible path would seem that government agencies stick to regulating these multinational conglomerates and regulate them well with people that serve and have no self interest in these same companies. When many companies compete then the consumer is the true winner at the end reflected by the price decrease. There is a major drawback to this free market system and it revolves around the notion of competitive advantage. This is something that all companies strive for and hope to achieve in order to gain greater value. This unique edge does not follow normal rules and will cause greater price increases for proprietary drugs.
One solution could be that the actual distribution and sale is left to the government and the private companies handle the research and development and in turn are awarded winning contracts and lucrative deals. The end user benefits from the research as well as the absorption of price differential by tax dollars directly by the government and not third parties. This would eliminate many of the concerns that play into profit motivated companies being in charge of life saving medicine
The real concern is the value assigned to a life. Is Mr. Warren Buffet’s life worth more than mine? Do we measure this solely on wealth generated or controlled?
I truly hope that we do not have models and formulas to answer these questions.