Disease, drugs, doctors, and Las Vegas

Disease, drugs, doctors

Prescription drugs currently account for well under 20 percent of the health-care budget. Within a generation or two, they will undoubtedly account for most of it–which will be another good thing. Pharma’s biochemical cures always end up far cheaper than the people-centered services they ultimately displace. Moreover, while much hands-on care only drags things out or soothes, the best medicines really cure. It is true that, early on in the pharmacological assault on a grave disease, drugs also stretch things out and can fail to beat the disease, so we often end up buying more drug and more doctor, too. But eventually drugs improve to the point where they beat the disease and thus lay off both doctor and hospital.

Of Pills and Profits: In Defense of Big Pharma,” by Peter W. Huber, Commentary, July-August 2006
Hat tp: Marginal Revolution

Las Vegas

When people say America’s future will look like Las Vegas, they usually mean there will be fewer jobs in manufacturing and more in services. But the city also provides an example of how (and how not) to cope with the boomers surging past 60.

The casinos are scrambling to compete for the boomers’ money: hence the parade of crooners of a certain age and a show called “Menopause—the Musical” at the Hilton. Many boomers retire to Las Vegas because they so enjoyed holidaying there. When they first arrive, they are typically “young-old”, healthy and relatively wealthy. Their spending boosts the local economy, especially if they can afford spa treatments and dog-washing services. But as they age they will start, as a group, to demand more public services.

“Right now they are not costing us much,” says Mary Liveratti, deputy director of Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services. “But look at Arizona [a long-time magnet for the retired]. Twenty years ago it was great. But now they need lots of hospitals.”

Of gambling, grannies and good sense: Nevada is the new hot spot for retirees. America should watch how it copes with the influx, and learn,” The Economist, July 20, 2006

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