Wednesday 6 January 2010

The collected year

One of my nerdy little ideas for this year is that I'm going to start collating and storing all the great bits of writing that I stumble over during the year, but which tend to get consigned to the ever-growing pile of New Yorkers in our house, or the depths of Instapaper.

The first piece to enter my anthology is Atul Gawande's 'Testing, Testing', from the December 14 2009 issue of the New Yorker. The strapline for the article asks: "The health-care bill has no master plan for curbing costs. Is that a bad thing?"

Gawande's topic is the American healthcare reform package. He points out that medical care currently absorbs 18 cents in every dollar earnt in America, and that if this current trend continues, "the cost of family insurance will reach twenty-seven thousand dollars or more in a decade, taking more than a fifth of every dollar that people earn." He continues:

So what does the reform package do about it? Turn to page 621 of the Senate version, the section entitled “Transforming the Health Care Delivery System,” and start reading. Does the bill end medicine’s destructive piecemeal payment system? Does it replace paying for quantity with paying for quality? Does it institute nationwide structural changes that curb costs and raise quality? It does not. Instead, what it offers is . . . pilot programs.

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