Today’s Good Health is, Well, Priceless

In the NY Times today, columnist David Leonhardt makes valid points about health care. His point is that good health is priceless, and we’re all lucky to have it in spite of the fact that it is taking more and more of our paychecks. He compares today with the 1950s. “Modern medicine has little to offer for the prevention or treatment of chronic and degenerative diseases,” wrote Rene Dubos, a prominent biologist of the 60s.

It was years later that doctors learned that high blood pressure and high cholesterol caused heart attacks. Today these and other revelations such as breakthroughs in cancer treatment keeps pushing the longevity bar higher, much higher than anyone in those days could have imagined.

But the result of all of these miracles, of course, is that it costs a lot. Leonhardt asked poignantly: Would you prefer to spend an extra $5500 per year and live longer? Or save the money and die ten years younger? It’s an obvious choice that gets forgotten as we all complain about the recent increase in our Blue Cross bill.

David Cutler wrote a book called “Your Money or Your Life,” he said, “We have enough of the basics in life…what we really want are the time and the quality of life to enjoy them.” So Leonhardt’s point is, it’s worth spending all of this dough on health care, since the return is, well, priceless.