Here is a potpourri of my morning reading rounds. They come together more coherently than I would have expected.
Dr. Val (via Joe Paduda) reports from "Fighting Chronic Disease: The Missing Link In Health Care Reform" conference that 50% of the (? adult) population has a chronic disease. In addition, chronic disease accounts for 75% of health care costs.
No wonder we can't afford health care in this country.
USA Today (via Kaiser Daily) reports that the lifetime cost of obesity is about 5 to 30 THOUSAND dollars.
The number of under-insured are rising. The Seattle Times coverage lingers on the plight of those with chronic disease who chose not to fill prescriptions due to the cost. If we focused on chronic disease care (i.e. secondary and tertiary prevention) to determine the impact of nearly 75 million uninsured and under-insured on the US health care tab, we could calculate an ROI. It would be a theoretical exercise to estimate the economic impact of universal health care.
It may not be a reason to do it; I was once told by an health care economist that some things that should not be subject to economic impact analysis. I think he found it morally repugnant. I agree, but finding dollars and cents calculations objectionable is not a reason not to do the calculation.
Maggie Mahar is right. Statistics and stories both inform policy in a way that neither alone can do adequately. There are thousands of moving stories of people in need (and a few stories of others taking advantage). Finding an acceptable way of providing universal coverage is the right thing to do. But we also deserve to know what the net effect is on our economic engine, even if it is an estimate or a guess.