A new study suggests higher U.S. oncology spending is 'worth it.'

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    Apr 13, 2012 7:31 PM GMT
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577337920091158442.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

    Tomas Philipson of the University of Chicago and colleagues compare U.S. oncology spending over the period from 1983 to 1999 (the last year for which data are available) with that in 10 European Union countries. Costs were lower overall overseas and grew by 16%, while they grew by 49% in the U.S. Yet U.S. cancer mortality rates are lower, despite higher cancer rates, and "We found that the value of survival gains greatly outweighed the costs, which suggests that the costs of cancer care were indeed 'worth it,'" Mr. Philipson et al. write.

    Throughout the entire period, U.S. cancer survival gains were larger, reaching 11.1 years over 1995 to 1999 against 9.3 years in the EU. The researchers then compared the U.S. and EU gains using conservative, commonly accepted measures for the value of a statistical life, less the cost of the care. The U.S. comes out ahead by $598 billion. In other words, though the U.S. spends more, patients and society benefit far more.

    Over 1995-1999, each $100 increase in per capita cancer spending—approximately $20,000 per cancer patient—was associated with another 2.3 years of life for the average patient. The authors are also careful to show that these results reflect real patient outcomes. Another myth is that U.S. survival rates are an artifact of the time of diagnosis, a "lead-time bias" that comes from more screening and earlier cancer detection, but without any improvement in life expectancy. Mr. Philipson's method controls for such bias.

    The U.S. system is relatively more expensive because diagnosis and treatment are much more intensive, and doctors tend to leverage the latest therapies and drugs against one of the world's leading killers. While U.S. health care could obviously be far more efficient, most of its dysfunctions are the result of government's perverse incentives.

    The sophisticates who pine for the allegedly more enlightened forms of European rationing and price controls—for more perverse incentives—would do well to peruse the Health Affairs symposium. Mr. Philipson's paper suggests those are good ways to stop anticancer progress in its tracks, or reverse it altogether.
  • t0theheights

    Posts: 428

    Apr 13, 2012 7:48 PM GMT
    It was pretty clear from the get-go this was a piece of conservative propaganda but this really sold it:

    "The U.S. system is relatively more expensive because diagnosis and treatment are much more intensive, and doctors tend to leverage the latest therapies and drugs against one of the world's leading killers. While U.S. health care could obviously be far more efficient, most of its dysfunctions are the result of government's perverse incentives."

    Lies, distortions, unfounded opinions, and claims that can't be backed up--typical right-wing trash. "Government's perverse incentives?" Really?? Such as... there's not a single piece of evidence in this article. Come on, WSJ, at least have the decency to hide your right wing bias A LITTLE.

    The fact remains we're one of the most inefficient nations in terms of healthcare, and also--embarrassingly--the only developed nation without universal healthcare, in spite of the enormous costs. And conservative BS like this is helping to ensure things won't get better any time soon.
  • t0theheights

    Posts: 428

    Apr 13, 2012 7:56 PM GMT
    It's encouraging that most of the comments on the WSJ page are also critical of this piece of biased trash "journalism." At least some of the WSJ readership seems not to be fooled and isn't totally drunk on the GOP kool aid.
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    Apr 13, 2012 8:10 PM GMT
    t0theheights saidIt was pretty clear from the get-go this was a piece of conservative propaganda but this really sold it:

    "The U.S. system is relatively more expensive because diagnosis and treatment are much more intensive, and doctors tend to leverage the latest therapies and drugs against one of the world's leading killers. While U.S. health care could obviously be far more efficient, most of its dysfunctions are the result of government's perverse incentives."

    Lies, distortions, unfounded opinions, and claims that can't be backed up--typical right-wing trash. "Government's perverse incentives?" Really?? Such as... there's not a single piece of evidence in this article. Come on, WSJ, at least have the decency to hide your right wing bias A LITTLE.

    The fact remains we're one of the most inefficient nations in terms of healthcare, and also--embarrassingly--the only developed nation without universal healthcare, in spite of the enormous costs. And conservative BS like this is helping to ensure things won't get better any time soon.


    Um I quoted the part where they talk about the study which amounts to more than "a single piece of evidence in this article". They certainly did editorialize around it, but your hyperbole makes you look silly.
  • commoncoll

    Posts: 1222

    Apr 13, 2012 10:25 PM GMT
    Oncological care costs can be highly inflated in the US. Unlike other drugs where the physician writes a prescription and the patient usually buys the drug from a non-physician-owned-pharmacy, the oncologists buy the drugs and then sell them to the patients. This is how oncologists profit and stay in business. For this reason, since cancer drugs are usually more expensive, they suddenly come at an even higher cost to the patient.