Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hypochondriacs of the world unite

Government intervention in a sphere of life is rarely desirable and the UK's National Health Service is an excellent example. (My take: completely separate commissioning/procurement of health services from provision. Argue about the role of the state in the former and accept the manifest obviousness of the need for private responsibility for the latter).

However, every so often, something good comes out of it. Browsing for information on something completely different, I discovered the NLH Question Answering Service.

It appears to be a beta but for the even mildly hypochondriac, there is a lifetime's worth of diseases to worry about. Excellent :-)

4 comments:

Jon Deane said...

Your descent in free market absolutism is like watching a friend succumb to drug addiction. The NHS is an excellent example? Utter tripe, Richard. Something good comes out if it only "every so often"? Now you're pushing the bounds of credulity indeed.
Next you'll be claiming that it's just recreational and you don't need rehab :p.
The "manifest obviousness of the need for private responsibility" is nothing of the sort. It is fulmination against ideological distaste, rather than having anything to do with practical benefit. Indeed, the Healthcare Commission can find little difference between public and private provision. Except, of course, private provision costs more.

Richard Brown said...

Next you'll be claiming that it's just recreational and you don't need rehab :p.

Indeed. My trip to the mother-lode of Economic Liberalism this evening is merely to enable me to understand them from the inside... I'm strong enough to resist.... I'm not like other people; it won't happen to me.

As for the Healthcare Commission.... remind me who pays for them and set them up :-)

The "manifest obviousness of the need for private responsibility" is nothing of the sort.

I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying there was any good reason (apart from ideology) for the government to be in the business of owning and operating coal mines, telephone companies, airlines and hospitals?

*paying* for healthcare is something one could argue about.... but in what way is it obvious that public ownership and operation of hospitals is optimal?

Jon Deane said...

I'm not saying it is. It's just you private enterprise ideologues seem totally unwilling to prove that it isn't.

I'm not claiming the NHS should have 100% public provision. It's just that no one is properly justifying it having 100% private provision. There's just this assumed private=good when the main issues of the NHS are ones of (over) management, not economic model.

Richard Brown said...

I'm not saying it is. It's just you private enterprise ideologues seem totally unwilling to prove that it isn't.

I think the onus is on you to show why healthcare is so utterly different that the improvements in quality, service and cost we observed when other state-owned enterprises were privatised would not occur here.


I'm not claiming the NHS should have 100% public provision. It's just that no one is properly justifying it having 100% private provision. There's just this assumed private=good when the main issues of the NHS are ones of (over) management, not economic model.


Where do you think this (over)management comes from? It's a direct result of a centralised top-down approach that is the effect of government control. (Essentially money and patronage flow down from government so the management system is set up to do whatever it takes to satisfy the beast. Contrast with enterprises where it's the customers that call the shots --- yes... I accept this is an argument for "money follows patient" rather than ownership but it's a related topic.

But the economic model really is *everything*. When all hospitals are owned by the state they are, by definition, a monopoly provider. And all the bad things you expect to see in monopoly provision is exactly what happens. As you hint, such a thing could happen regardless of ownership but is guaranteed to happen in public ownership.