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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Prevention Fallacy

They can't wait to prevent your living.

THE SNEAKIEST GAMBIT. A rare opportunity to see some statistics on a question I've wondered about for a long time. Thanks to Mark Steyn, not surprisingly, there's this citation from a Dartmouth physician:

Life expectancy in the European Union 78.7 years; life expectancy in the United States 78.06 years; life expectancy in Albania 77.6 years; life expectancy in Libya, 76.88 years; life expectancy in Bosnia & Herzegovina, 78.17 years. Once you get on top of childhood mortality and basic hygiene, everything else is peripheral – margin-of-error territory... Even within the United States, even within the Medicare system, there are regions that offer twice as much “health care” per patient – twice as many check-ups, pills, tests, operations – for no discernible variation in outcome.

uh, that's what I thought. Mark draws the obvious conclusion:

Indeed, the fate of the late Michael Jackson may yet prove an instructive lesson in the perils of too much medical attention. But that's his choice — under our present system. You want to get tested for something you're statistically unlikely to get? That's up to you. But it's harder to discern the state's interest. A system of universal "preventive" care will create a hugely expensive, inflexible regime geared not to the illnesses you actually get but to the bureaucratic processing of waiting rooms clogged with perfectly healthy people getting annual tests for diseases they'll never get — and none of it will impact on our health, only on our tax returns.

Not only on our tax returns. On our lives as well. The preventive medicine creed as practiced by government types isn't about health. It's about control. All you need to understand about the underlying philosophy of the universal healthcare crowd is the set of arguments surrounding motorcycle helmet laws. Once, it was your head. It no longer is. Now your helmet is an economic issue to your fellow citizens. If you might damage that head so that it costs others money to treat, they have the right to make you wear a helmet. It's their head now. You're just renting it from the state.

That's what the emphasis on preventive medicine is designed to do. Enable the owners of your body to document in meticulous bureaucratic detail all the ways you're not taking care of it, so that when it does become damaged, the owners can decide whether it's worth the expense of fixing it. After they've decided not to fix the rented bodies of enough malefactors, they'll get what they really want: control of everything you do with their body -- and your meek submission to all the monitoring and regulation of your formerly private life 'required' to protect their investment.

You like boycotts? Boycott the medical profession. After the age of one, they don't have a lot to offer you that can't be handled far more cheaply and effectively by aspirin, Rolaids, and Bengay. Some of you have genuine need for their services and that's fine. But most of you don't. Stay the hell away from them. No good can come of this obsession with running to the doctor with every little ache and pain.

Life hurts. Doctors can't do a damn thing about that. And don't you forget it.







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