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Quick Thought: 90% of Medical Care Did Not Exist 75 years ago

By January 7, 2019Healthcare
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“More than 90 percent of the medicine being practiced today did not exist in 1950.”

John Steele Gordon in A Short History of American Medical Insurance

I don’t know about you, but that insight caused a brain-quake in my head. Most of what any of us read and hear about healthcare today is focused on 3 things:

  • How much more expensive it is in the U.S. relative to other developed countries
  • How the quality in the U.S. is lower compared to other developed countries
  • And – depending on your chosen media outlet – how the Republicans have screwed it up and how the Democrats can quickly, easily and cheaply fix it, or how the Democrats have screwed it up and how the Republicans can quickly, easily and cheaply fix it

Somehow that staggering notion that 90% of the medicine being practiced today did not exist in 1950 makes it seem like all that expenditure of hot air is MASSIVELY missing the truly significant point.

Think about it…

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Definietly comparing apples and oranges, but the same could be said of computers or consumer elecronics, and the goods and services there are more abundant and cheaper than ever. One example, I remember paying $55 per month for a telephone land line 30 years ago, today, my much more capable cell phone is $10 per month. That $55 CPI adjusts to $120.

    There’s this, “A computer makes it possible to do, in half an hour, tasks which were completely unnecessary to do before.”–Anonymous, which explains some dedication to and drawbacks of our computers and electronics. But doesn’t this apply somewhat to our medicine?

    I have begun to refuse some pricey tests where older, cheaper options exist, because the early returns on the pricey tests showed exremely low-in-the-range results. Part of my engineering training was that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it makes any sense. There is a lot of it all, computers, medicine, engineering, that doesn’t make any monetary sense.

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