Talking about health care provides a great opportunity to link to this video by Peter Aldhous, Jim Giles and MacGregor Campbell — the last of whom was once Tom Levenson’s advisee. (Also via Bioephemera, who at least was kind enough to embed the video.)
The video, also at New Scientist, takes data from studies by Dartmouth and the OECD, and uses Gapminder to make the graphs come alive. It helps explain one of the paradoxes behind health care in the U.S.: we spend more than most other developed countries, and we get less for it. The explanation — you’ll be unsurprised to hear — lies in our screwy incentive system. By making health care a matter of profit for various sets of people — doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies — we push into the background the incentive that we’d really like the system to have, namely keeping people healthy. Changing those incentives doesn’t mean that Barack Obama decides what treatment you get from your doctor; it just means that we can focus human ingenuity on the task of making people healthier, rather than just making other people wealthier.