Nobel Prize in Medicine


The nobel prize for medicine has been awarded to:

Three lady doctors in the good old U.S. of A. 

That’s right.  Not to some quack from Germany or from an English dentist.  Cancer researchers working in the US got the coveted award. 

I wonder, if socialized medicine is such a great thing, that doctors from countries that have socialized medecine don’t win the Nobel Prize.  I mean, with the full budget of an entire modern country at your disposal, why wouldn’t doctors do research and win some of these prizes?  American doctors have won the prize for something like five straight times. 

The answer is simple.  Capitalism.  Capitalism rewards people for thinking outside of the box and doing research.  It makes people want to improve the processes they employ in their daily lives, and want to improve the ways in which we treat aggressive diseases that usually kill the host.  In short, capitalism saves lives.  Can you imagine a world without the United States?  We invent and improve a lot of products.  The Japanese just improve the way products are made.  And the people who do the inventing are allowed to copyright their work and make money based on the success of their ideas.  This leads to even more good ideas and products.  Once people see that a person with a good idea can help the world and make a few bucks at the same time, they jump in and get creative.  No such action is taken in socialist nations, where the state owns ideas of its citizens. 

Two of the three doctors are Americans, while the third is an Austrailian.  But all three work in the US at research hospitals or are the heads of departments at those hospitals.  And, as I said before, Americans are running the table when it comes to these awards.  Sure Yasser Arafat can get a peace prize, and the Germans get the physics prize, but medicine is almost always won by Americans. 

The Nobel folks are taking heat because women don’t win these awards enough.  PLEASE!  These awards are based on scientific research, usually done some years back when the scientific community wasn’t brimming with females, so of cours they don’t win this award much.  The board even said that the award is based on science, not the researchers installed biological plumbing. 

So, go capitalism!  When was the last time Fidel Castro had a doctor win a prize for anything?  How about the Soviets?  Nazis?  Chinese?  There is a reason these countries send their doctors here to be trained, and it’s not because we have a Hooters on every corner (although that would be enough for me.)  It’s because we have the best doctors in the world, and the best training facilities in the world. 

And I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

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11 Responses to “Nobel Prize in Medicine”

  1. someothersteve Says:

    Here’s a link for all of the past awards in medicine. I only looked at the last 10 years worth, but there could be merit in what you say. It’s definitely a different way of thinking about that particular Nobel Prize.

  2. A little link love « Doesn't Everybody Have a Blog? Says:

    […] started ranting on his own WordPress Blog, Think Hard, before I did has an interesting take on the Nobel Prize in medicine. It’s definitely worth a link and a think. […]

  3. Brian Says:

    Research and access to affordable care are different things entirely. Why compare apples and oranges just to deny that there’s a problem with the way health care is handled in this country?

    In London last year i had a cold and went to a doctor. Paid nothing, got medicine, waited maybe 10 minutes for it.

    This year i had what i think was the flu. Even with the H1N1 scare going around i didn’t go to the doctor — even though i have health insurance. Why? The co-pay is $35 !!! Sorry, but i’m not paying $35 to be told “yes, you have the flu and should drink plenty of liquids.” (Oh, and another $20 co-pay if i had to go through Walgreen’s to pick up an antibiotic or something.)

    I work for an insurance company. Even in this economy our company is making a killing and spending millions on charity. It’s a global company. Do you suppose our profits come from these other countries with socialized medicine — or mostly from us US citizens? With how many offices we have around the world, i’d imagine we have a pretty large R&D laboratory somewhere. Having denied a few claims today (from people here in the states), i can only guess as to who pays for our R&D wing…

    • babaje2 Says:

      Brian,

      Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. Your comments are welcome. There are many different points of view on most subjects, and nobody agrees on everything, but the only way to learn is to exchange ideas.
      I am not saying that there aren’t problems in our healthcare system. I am saying that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get people who want and need care who can’t afford it covered. Depending on whose numbers you believe, there are anywhere from 8 million to 50 million people who don’t currently have coverage. With a desparity that big, how can the government, who has done a bang up job running Amtrak and the Postal Service, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Securtiy, even begin to propose changes? Every person who doesn’t have coverage doesn’t have it for a reason. Some can’t afford it and want coverage. Some don’t want coverage and pay their doctor outright for services if they need care. Why would the government force people to buy something they don’t want? What’s next? Government subsidies for car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and business insurance? All I am saying is we don’t have to rebuild the house because it has a leaky roof. Fix the leaks.

      I don’t go to the doctor unless something unusual happens, even when I get a cold or flu. Sometimes I don’t use my insurance to pay if I can afford it. Everybody isn’t like that, and if the government suddenly says “You can go to the doctor anytime you want and pay nothing,” no one has a reason to even think that maybe they just need to sleep and drink some orange juice until they feel better. Costs won’t go down, and people like you, in the healthcare industry, will probably be out of a job.

      Glad you survived the flu, and I wish you well. Please feel free to look over my blog again and comment any time. Even if we don’t agree, I still enjoy the input.

      Jon Richard

  4. Brian Says:

    “I am not saying that there aren’t problems in our healthcare system. I am saying that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get people who want and need care who can’t afford it covered.”

    I have to disagree, Jon, as I believe the wheel should be reinvented. We’ve had “the wheel” since the country began, and quite a lot of things have happened since then. We are not an island unto ourselves, and we can afford to learn from the successes that other countries have obviously had in figuring out how to ensure a healthy citizenry. Recent studies indicate that one third of our entire population is obese; there are healthy folks throughout our country who are working full-time jobs but can’t afford health insurance — i’d say that the health care wheel is broken.

    “Depending on whose numbers you believe, there are anywhere from 8 million to 50 million people who don’t currently have coverage. With a desparity that big, how can the government, who has done a bang up job running Amtrak and the Postal Service, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Securtiy, even begin to propose changes?”

    So are you saying that because we don’t know whether it’s exactly 8 million or 50 million uncovered lives that we should stick with the status quo, that those people just have to “suck it up” and try harder? This must be that “compassionate conservatism” i hear about!

    “Every person who doesn’t have coverage doesn’t have it for a reason.”

    Yes, and it’s often for *stupid* reasons. (Like working for a company for 20 years before they get bought out by a larger firm and you suddenly get laid off.) I went without insurance all through my twenties because i simply couldn’t afford it. Once i could afford it i didn’t use it like i should have because.. generally speaking, the system is set up to keep me from getting what i’ve paid for. The current system capitalizes on people not having the time to research the differences between an allowance amount or a declining balance plan, say. Most people don’t understand their individual coverage enough to get what they actually paid for, and trying to use the coverage is probably the biggest detriment to repeated utilization of it!

    “Why would the government force people to buy something they don’t want? What’s next? Government subsidies for car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and business insurance? All I am saying is we don’t have to rebuild the house because it has a leaky roof. Fix the leaks.”

    A leaky roof? You imply we have the best healthcare in the world but we rank 35th in life expectancy worldwide. (Will provide links if you need them.) This is more like a flooded basement, considering how much wealth our country holds!

    At this point in my life i’m comfortable enough to consider living somewhere outside the states. Staying within your analogy, perhaps i should sell the house — maybe i could sell it at a profit to one of those poor souls forced to decide between cost of living or maintaining health coverage! — and become a citizen of a country with a socialized system. (This is not just empty rhetoric; i’ve been thinking of moving outside the states and though the cost of health care really isn’t that big a factor for me personally, wouldn’t i be foolish to dismiss this consideration out of hand? I did four years in the military; our government ran that health care system and it wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for me.)

    “Costs won’t go down, and people like you, in the healthcare industry, will probably be out of a job.”

    Not according to my employers. In one co-worker’s words, “we will finally be working *for* the people instead of against them”. (Another manager opined to me that “our money will just be coming from somewhere else”, which worried me at first because of the drain on our country’s economy. But then i realized that people will still get sick and that there is no large pool of “government workers” set to take over our jobs. The biggest threat to us? Maybe there just won’t be much profit to be had in waiting for people to get sick…)

    Do you honestly think that i would both be out of a job AND the government would be ripping off doctors and patients? The insurance industry makes its money by inserting itself in between the doctor and the patient. If you’re saying i’d be out of job, then that means the insurance company would be out of the way. With that in mind, do you honestly think that costs would go up — and not down — when you take the insurance companies out of the picture? Aren’t we the ones keeping doctors from making a “fair” wage?

    Thinking over it a little more, it seems to me your argument boils down to this: We win more awards, so the problem of un- or under-insured citizens just doesn’t matter. ..I mean, if you offered some *solutions* — even ones that were later shot down — your opinion would not appear so callous and cold-hearted. Now I’m sure you yourself wouldn’t put it that way — and i’m not saying you yourself are callous or cold-hearted, but judging from your other blog post attacking the president’s ambitions, i doubt there is much we will agree on.

    And are you going to continue to use this argument now that Obama was awarded a Nobel?

    • babaje2 Says:

      Thanks again for your reply.
      You are probably right that we won’t agree on much. Since you are obviously an expert on both socialized medicine and private sector healthcare insurance, maybe I’m out of my league.

      You are correct that people don’t understand their coverage, any better than they understand their homeowner’s insurance or auto insurance. These industries, like healthcare insurance, are designed to make a profit for their shareholders. It’s a bet on behalf of the shareholders that more will be paid in premiums than will be paid out in claims. It’s almost a certainty that a person who is 25 will not have many claims against his healthcare policy, but as he gets older, will have more claims. You pay your premiums, year after year, and use the services of a doctor when you need to. The bottom line here is that you will NEVER GET ALL YOU PAY FOR! But if, God forbid, you ever get really sick and have a huge amount of money to claim, most of it will be paid. That’s the point of insurance. It’s supposed to be protection from catastrophic events, not to be used for a checkup. But the healthcare policies out there now don’t deny this use, and it’s these many millions of little claims that hamstring a lot of companies and the way they have to write their policies.

      I, too, served in the military, and paid for Tricare Prime insurance. I was “covered” by the military, but my family had to use a clinic, and we had to pay a co-pay for office visits. These co-pays were about the same as I pay now, and it was worth it to me to get my kids seen if they had an ear infection. The same way it should be worth it to pay $25 for an office visit to make sure you don’t have pneumonia. If you remove the copay, the person seeking care won’t even think twice about going to the doctor for removing a splinter they could get out with a safety pin. Government dependency leads to more government dependency.

      I guess my main point here is that I would rather pay my doctor outright than even have to file a claim. Nothing that Congress or President Obama has done has begun to address the real problem: the actual cost of a doctor’s visit. The actual cost of getting an X-Ray or an MRI. Their focus is on getting people insured, and, according the recent CBO estimates, with the current plan being considered, 25 million people would STILL be uninsured. Not bad for a $900 billion investment.

      Something not on the table is some form of tort reform. If doctor’s make good faith decisions and still have bad things happen to their patients, it’s called a MISTAKE. The doctor should not be run out of town nor ruined professionally and financially. Texas instituted a limit on the amount of pain and suffering that could be paid for a lawsuit, and, miracle of miracles, costs actually decreased! There were fewer suits. The problem is not people filing suit who have a claim. It’s people filing suit looking for a quick payday.

      Insurance companies write contracts. Maybe if they didn’t have to guard against patients and doctors trying to scam them for money, their contracts would make more sense and they would actually offer a better product.

      Patients need to use common sense. Go to the doctor if you are sick. Go to the emergency room if you need to. If you have a cold, stay home from work and sleep for a day, drink a ton of Gatorade and eat some chicken soup.

      Maybe allowing people to write off what they pay for health insurance from their taxes would not be such a bad idea.

      Allowing competition between companies across state lines would drive costs down (more capitalism at work.)

      Government subsidies to hospitals to care for people with no coverage would be more cost effective than spending $900 billion to destroy any free-market solutions.

      There are a lot of good ideas out there. I just don’t think the government running the whole shooting match is one of them. Your faith in the government to be honest points to a little naivetee on your part. Yes they would rip off doctors and patients. Ask Medicare recipients. Doctors don’t treat Medicare recipients aggressively because they know the government won’t pay.

      Obama was awarded a peace prize, not a science or technology prize. The process is different for the peace prize, as I have blogged about already, so yes. Since I blogged on this, Americans have won in physics and economics (although, I must say, that given the way our economy is right now, I don’t get that one.) You and I went on a tangent here, but the main idea is that capitalism is good for the world. So, GOOOOO Capitalism!

      I appreciate your thoughts and your reading my blog. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

      Good luck.

  5. Brian Says:

    Well, there’s not much i disagree with — if anything — in what you wrote this last time, Jon. Think i’ll stop for now and take solace in that! ^_^

    Take care,
    Brian

  6. Debbi Says:

    I have had private healthcare that was very decent, as an employee….I have also been a single mom that couldn’t take her sick child for care when she needed it…because of cost…I have had both that neither covered dental coverages, when that was needed, most of all… I have been ‘pushed through’ the lines of emergency rooms because of superior coverage, and I have had to ‘wait in lines’ at a third try at an emercency clinic because I was ‘on the ‘low end’ of the list…the bottom line is that is cost me the same, in both scenarios, and the coverage was still, the same…the end result, was still the same…Western medicine is, what it is…..
    I honestly believe that doctor’s who are true to their profession do not ‘care more or less’ when it comes to patient care…the basic instinct is to do as much for the patient as possible in the given scenario…once the patient is seen…I believe that it comes down to the time of wait….and that is pretty much, it…
    In a perfect socialistic medical scenario, as with all professions, the bottom line of the universe, is that if people do what it is they truly love; whether it is being a doctor, or artisitic endeavorment; that if we truly did all that we, were, individually blessed with, it would be a much better world…people doing what they love, because it created self-fulfillment…instead of money…what a great concept!
    I strongly believe in socialized medicine- and if enough Eastern practioners step up to the plate….we will see that Western medicine is not ‘the way of life’…it is the ‘correction’ of all that went wrong….and we could balance this all out….
    Health insurance is not my first priority…however dental coverage is a different story….this is a good example of a ‘socialized medical scenario’ – medical – with a capitalized scenario (dental)….any thoughts to share????

    • babaje2 Says:

      Debbi,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and to comment. Your thoughts are always welcome.
      I haven’t lived in a country with socialized medicine. I have been in the military, and had my dislocated shoulder treated by a dermatologist. It only hurts sometimes now.
      The wait is the problem. Right now, today, if I get an injury, I can go to the hospital and get seen by a specialist with one referral. If, during examining me for that injury, they find out I have cancer, I can go to another specialist to begin life-saving treatments. If I lived in Canada, say, I would have to wait for up to four hours to be assesed by an ER doc, maybe longer if they can keep me out of the ER. If they find out I have cancer, some beareaucrat gets to decide if I get treatment or not, not my doctor. And they decide the timetable for that treatment.
      The problem is that doctors will do their best, but they still need to get paid for their work, or they won’t be doctors for long. Why would anyone put themselves through the struggles of college and medical school if they couldn’t make a living doing it? “Thanks for spending the last seven years of your life to become a doctor. Congratulations! You are now a public employee. Ten bucks an hour sounds fair to us. Sound good to you?”
      Healthcare insurance is expensive right now for a lot of reasons. Medical care is expensive. People try to scam the system. Doctors have to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits. Maybe if the cost of a doctor’s visit wasn’t so ridiculously expensive, healthcare insurance wouldn’t be so expensive.
      Thanks again for sharing.

  7. Brian Says:

    “I haven’t lived in a country with socialized medicine. I have been in the military, and had my dislocated shoulder treated by a dermatologist. It only hurts sometimes now.”

    I got hurt as a child. Plane of glass fell on my wrist, causing a deep gash. Parents drove me straight to the nice, new, award-winning hospital a half-mile up the street. (They weren’t in network, but it was an emergency — i was bleeding profusely from my wrist!) I waited in the ER for a while, holding my wrist with the rag i took from our bathroom to stop the flow of bed until i could be seen. When they got to me they were in a bit of a hurry and now the skin of my wrist is permanently sewn to the tissue underneath; it doesn’t cause physical discomfort but it sure looks wrong. I’ve often thought of paying to have it fixed since then..

    When i was in the military i just walked a block to “sick call” and they took care of whatever problems i had. Sure, they seemed to prescribed Motrin or some other NSAID for damn near every ailment — but i get the same treatment now under private insurance when something is bad enough that i feel a need to pay the higher “Urgent Care” co-pay. (Which begs the question: If i have such a top-wrung insurance plan — and live in a country with “world-class healthcare” — then why am i paying anything at all?)

    Maybe you had struggled with financial difficulties in your twenties as i did, Jon. Maybe you toyed with the idea of reenlisting into the service just so you’d have healthcare again — then again, maybe you were luckier than i. I know that this was tempting to me every now and then, but somehow i have “made it” and now that it’s 15~20 years later, i am now able to pay for the dental care i’ve badly needed since back then. (And my current top-of-the line “cadillac care” plan only pays 40% of the fees! I STILL have to pay 60% out-of-pocket! If the state would have tended to my dental needs when i was struggling, the problems wouldn’t have escalated like they did. I could have avoided dental SURGERY!)

    Here’s one guy for you who DID decide to reenlist just so his cancer-stricken wife could get that government-run treatment: http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/64677772.html. He’s one of those guys who you say “doesn’t have it [coverage] for a reason”.

    “The wait is the problem. Right now, today, if I get an injury, I can go to the hospital and get seen by a specialist with one referral. If, during examining me for that injury, they find out I have cancer, I can go to another specialist to begin life-saving treatments.”

    And these specialists you speak of — when you call for an appointment do they say, “oh sure, just come on in sometime tomorrow”? I know in my industry (vision care) — the specialist types are the hardest to book appointments with.

    (In the vision world this scenario actually creates M.D.’s who become so specialized they actually *refuse* to perform eye exams as it just isn’t worth their time to perform an exam when they can make so much more money by doing a specialized service. So you the patient call in to the insurance company because you insist you have to have an M.D. performing your examination because you know you have a history of diabetes or whatever. Well, sorry pal — no M.D. in your area is going to waste his time doing an exam on you when he can make so much more doing surgeries! Consider the specialist’s point of view: would one rather get paid $30 for an hour’s work — or $300? That’s those free-market pressures working “for” you!)

    “If I lived in Canada, say, I would have to wait for up to four hours to be assesed by an ER doc, maybe longer if they can keep me out of the ER. If they find out I have cancer, some beareaucrat gets to decide if I get treatment or not, not my doctor. And they decide the timetable for that treatment.”

    But that IS the system now. If you have cancer, *I* am the bureaucrat who decides whether your claim gets paid or not. And i work for a business who is out to make money. (This was all about Capitalism and the free-market system, remember?) Do you think your claim is getting paid if you don’t fill out your claim form correctly, or if you don’t get it in to us in time?!? If you can’t fill out a damn claim form — or feel it’s important enough to fill it out correctly, get to us in time, so on and so forth — why should we pay on your claim? Need i remind you i want my company to make money so i can still have a job? I work for the insurance company — your sickness may pay my bills but i don’t work for you.

    “The problem is that doctors will do their best, but they still need to get paid for their work, or they won’t be doctors for long. Why would anyone put themselves through the struggles of college and medical school if they couldn’t make a living doing it? ‘Thanks for spending the last seven years of your life to become a doctor. Congratulations! You are now a public employee. Ten bucks an hour sounds fair to us. Sound good to you?'”

    Is this just a strawman argument? In what country do they pay their doctors $10 per hour ?!?

    Also, i’d rather have a doctor who went through the schooling and the training because they want to be a doctor — not someone who’s just in it for a buck. I don’t know if i feel comfortable using Michael Moore as a source, but in “Sicko” Mr. Moore interviews a doctor in Canada (i believe) who looked pretty well provided for. Judging from his home and from the car he drove, i’d say the guy was living “well-to-do”.

    “Healthcare insurance is expensive right now for a lot of reasons. Medical care is expensive. People try to scam the system. Doctors have to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits. Maybe if the cost of a doctor’s visit wasn’t so ridiculously expensive, healthcare insurance wouldn’t be so expensive.”

    It’s only going to get more expensive! Polls left and right are showing insurance premiums increasing at an alarming rate. (And your insurance company is likely blowing millions of our premium dollars right now just to fight AGAINST universal health care!) Unless there is some meaningful reform we will continue to pay much more for our care than countries with socialized healthcare systems do.

    You think because we can afford to do the research and typically win a lot of Nobel Prizes — like Obama 😉 — that this somehow equates to us having the best health care ?!? We are the only industrialized country in THE WORLD that does not guarantee comprehensive healthcare for all its citizens! (http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2009/04/lack_of_universal_health_care.php)

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