April 30, 2010

Health care: lessons from Cuba

Life expectancy and other measures of good health in Cuba are only slightly worse than those in the U.S. and Europe, despite the fact that Cubans spend much less money in health care and medical education. In an article in Science Paul K. Drain and Michele Barry suggest that this is because cheap preventive care as practiced in Cuba is more cost-effective than the expensive, high-tech cures typical of rich countries.

How can we move towards a Cuban-like, cost-effective care? By removing government regulations that limit the number and variety and inflate the fees of health care workers and hospitals, that limit the availability of medicines, and that generally ban cheap but effective care. You don't need Harvard-educated doctors, five-star hospitals and million-dollar machines to take your blood pressure.

Although it has nothing to do with the topic of their article, Drain and Barry call for lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. So do I. And I also call for lifting the trade embargoes, tariffs and regulations the European Union has erected against Cuba and all other countries.

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