Monday, December 10, 2007

The New Medicine Reality

Life and death is the ultimate personal experience. City Journal has a lengthy article about how the uniqueness of each individual threatens the group approach of government care for everyone. Assaults upon the community from the outside need to be countered by entirely different tactics than resistance to the effects of time in our internal biochemistries.

Cherry Garcia and the End of Socialized Medicine: This great etiological shift—from the medicine of us versus germs to the medicine of us versus us—upends everything. Disease and its cures now depend on factors too fragmented for conventional insurance pools to contain, too costly for public treasuries to underwrite, and too divisive for public authorities even to discuss, much less manage. The era of big government is over in medicine, too. Within a decade or two, a charismatic president will deliver on the promise to end health care as we know it. What then? Science will discover, competition will supply, patients will choose, and freedom will deliver better medicine and far better health, at lower cost, to many more people.

The difference between medicine’s old simplicity and its new complexity is rooted in molecular biology. … By scrutinizing differences in our chemistry, biochemists can now disassemble glut-and-gene diseases into molecules that can be exposed long before they morph into plaques, clots, tremors, tumors, occluded airwaves, clogged arteries, and failed muscles. Breast cancer used to be a lump; now it’s at least four genes, two of which, when paired, make a tumor almost certain. Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to four genes.

Perhaps the irony lies in the fact, that our success in communal efforts to improve health with public sanitation, adequate nutrition and effective therapy for infectious disease lead to the false belief that all problems of disease require communal solutions. As our knowledge of the unique individuality of health gains precision, it erodes the legitimacy of mandating group think strategies. It might even get to the point where individual responsibility is again valued over the need for true charity freely given, and true charity over handouts acquired by the power of taking.