Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Don't Blame the Machines

I ran across the following quotation in this article:

Mr Ryan notes that with the government now paying roughly half of all health care costs, more disciplined federal funding could force efficiency into the system. However, that still leaves rising costs due to technological progress, an aging population, and the shrinking coverage offered by private sector employers. [Emphasis mine.]

Why would technology create rising costs? Yes, technology is expensive, but so are the alternatives, which is why we invent technology. Technology either makes us more efficient, which reduces costs, or it allows us to do something which we hadn't been able to do before. Whether we utilize our new capabilities is not a technological problem.

Rising medical costs are not due to technological progress. They are due to the assumption that, because we can do something which we previously could not, we should do it. Medical costs rise with technological progress only because we decide to treat that which was previously left untreated.

Whatever you think about rising medical costs, don't blame the machines. We're the ones jacking up the price.

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