Monday, April 09, 2007

For-profit healthcare?

Gina Kolata, in the NYT writing about heart disease, wrote (emphasis added by me) -

"Studies reveal, for example, that people have only about an hour to get their arteries open during a heart attack if they are to avoid permanent heart damage. Yet, recent surveys find, fewer than 10 percent get to a hospital that fast, sometimes because they are reluctant to acknowledge what is happening. And most who reach the hospital quickly do not receive the optimal treatment — many American hospitals are not fully equipped to provide it but are reluctant to give up heart patients because they are so profitable."

Free markets and the profit motive are all very well and good, but the problem is that a person (and his or her family) who is in the midst of a medical emergency cannot be an effective free-market player - e.g., is not in a position to make a fully informed decision. The care provider must have sufficient incentive to take care of the patient's best interest, even if it spoils the bottom line.