For-Profit Medicine Under Attack


Even when I think I’m wrong about something I usually end up being right. So I said, many times my usual attitude of warning you, particularly those of you in the medical professions, why should there be profit in making people well? Why should healing involve profit? Why should that cost anything? Why should that cost any more than what it costs? Well, let me take you to what I hold here now in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers. Right here. It is in the New York Times. It is a story by Eduardo Porter, and the headline: “Health Care and Profits, a Poor Mix.”

Do I need to even go any further? No. And as H.R., my trusted aide-de-camp and chief of staff, said, “Boy, did you call it.” Yep. And I’m not surprised. “Thirty years ago, Bonnie Svarstad and Chester Bond of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered an interesting pattern in the use of sedatives at nursing homes in the south of the state.

“Patients entering church-affiliated nonprofit homes were prescribed drugs roughly as often as those entering profit-making ‘proprietary’ institutions. But patients in proprietary homes received, on average, more than four times the dose of patients at nonprofits.
Writing about his colleagues’ research in his 1988 book ‘The Nonprofit Economy,’ the economist Burton Weisbrod provided a straightforward explanation: ‘differences in the pursuit of profit.’ Sedatives are cheap, Mr. Weisbrod noted. ‘Less expensive than, say, giving special attention to more active patients who need to be kept busy.’ This behavior was hardly surprising. Hospitals run for profit are also less likely than nonprofit and government-run institutions to offer services like home health care.”



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