Are the Benefits of Medicine Worth What We Pay for It? 15th Annual Herbert Lourie Memorial Lecture on Health Policy
Is medical care worth it? Conventional wisdom says no, but my answer is emphatically yes. The benefits that we have received from medical advance are enormously greater than the costs. I suggest that public policy far outweighs the importance of cost containment relative to coverage expansion; we could in fact spend more and get a lot more for our health care dollars. In what follows, I talk about the costs and benefits of medical advance, focusing on two areas where I have done the most work: improvements in cardiovascular disease care and care for low birth weight infants. In each case, I present evidence that the benefits justify the costs, and discuss what that implies for public policy. I note at the outside that I shall be summarizing a large volume of research that I and others have done. I have compiled my views into a book, YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE (2004, Oxford University Press), that the interested reader should consult.
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