In the New York Times, Dave Leonhardt takes on the myth of "More care! Less money!" A focus on preventative care, he explains, will make people healthier — but, contrary to what’s being claimed by many liberal health-care advocates, there’s little reason to believe it will cost less.
The theory goes like this: By practicing preventive medicine, doctors can keep many people from getting sick in the first place. Those who do end up with a chronic illness will be closely tracked so that fewer of them develop complications. These steps will result in less illness, which in turn will require less health care. With the savings, the country can then lower its medical bills or provide health insurance for the 40-odd million people who lack it Ã¢â‚¬â€ or maybe even both.
As Hillary Clinton recently told The Atlantic, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s possible to Ã¢â‚¬Å“save money and improve quality and cover everybody.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But the current presidential candidates go one step further. They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t merely argue that preventive care delivers good bang for the buck. They argue that it delivers good bang for no bucks whatsoever. And this is where the candidates are overreaching.
No one really knows whether preventive medicine will save money in the long run, let alone free up the billions of dollars a year needed to help pay for universal health insurance. In fact, studies have shown that preventive care Ã¢â‚¬â€ be it cancer screening, smoking cessation or plain old checkups Ã¢â‚¬â€ usually ends up costing money. It makes people healthier, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not free.
And, as John Edwards has plainly admitted, that probably means higher taxes.