HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, May 1, 2009

Health Reform and Pandemics

Matthew Yglesias points out the need for health reform that this swine flu outbreak has reinforced.  He writes,

The CDC’s “Swine Flu and You” page offers the following under the heading of “what should I do if I get sick”:

If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

Of course as Igor Volsky points out:

But for the millions of Americans who can’t afford to purchase health insurance, a visit to a “health care provider” is an expensive proposition. . . .   According to the latest Kaiser Poll, 60 percent of Americans say that “they or a member of their household have delayed or skipped health care in the past year” and many are “substituting home remedies or over the counter drugs for doctors visits.” . . . .

More broadly, the epidemic serves a reminder that the health care system is in many ways a public function. Free markets work very well for ordinary consumption goods, but Tamiflu is not an ordinary consumption good. . . . .

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