The editorial page of the Washington Post is not normally my preferred place to go for free market analysis of health care and other major issues of the day, but Charles Lane, a member of the editorial board, seems to have a reasonable grasp on the realities of health care reform. His recent article, which appeared in the Albuquerque Journal starts out with a discussion of the supposed problem of “diagnostic creep.” In the words of Lane, diagnostic creep happens when society medicalizes imperfections that formerly were either not defined as disease or thought to be too minor and/or too intractable for treatment.
Sometimes, this is a real problem and it unnecessarily drives up costs. But, as Lane points out “diagnostic creep sounds bad, but it obviously can be very good” because it has helped people with a whole host of real medical issues.
Ultimately, as Lane points out, government boards that might be set up to determine whether certain procedures are necessary will result in a political firestorm or, if they are too lax, will not result in savings. Unfortunately, Lane does not make the next step and call for an end to the whole charade of government-directed health care, but he is certainly on the right track.