Re: Healthcare (was Re: John in Alaska)

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Tue Jan 22 2002 - 14:21:19 MST

On Tue, 22 Jan 2002 wrote:

> Again I want to remind you that Robin Hanson, who as an economist who
> has studied health care issues is in a position to know, has pointed
> out that there is little objective evidence that this practice will
> improve health. According to Robin, what evidence there is suggests
> that seeing the doctor regularly does not do much for your health.

Hal, do you know if Robin studied things like clean water, sanitation
or refrigeration? Or perhaps the spread of "sterile" medical practices
(physicians washing hands in the mid-late 1800's, sterile operating rooms,
etc.). Or perhaps it is simply a rising standard of living and better nutrition.

There is a *big* difference in lifespan extensions when you are
pushing it out to the maximum genetic potential (70-90 on average
perhaps) and trying to push it beyond the maximum potential.
Due to the exponential growth in disease conditions later in
life, frequent checkups become increasingly important as you
get older to catch developing conditions before they become
life-threatening conditions. There are many conditions
associated with wear and tear, diabetes and high blood
pressure are two that come to mind, where your longevity
will be determined by the integrated area under the curve
(severity of condition x length of time untreated or treated
poorly) that will determine how successful one will be a
retaining a "healthy" condition.

So while Robin's conclusions may be valid for the previous
century when one was pushing life expectancy from ~50 to ~75,
that doesn't mean that ignoring "healthy prescriptions" for
disease prevention and early detection is a good idea today.


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