15 August 2012

"We're spending a lot of money; let's do some cost/benefit analysis." "No way! What do a bunch of accountants know?"

EconLog | Arnold Kling | Atul Gawande on Health Care Administration

He writes,

The theory the country is about to test is that chains will make us better and more efficient. The question is how. To most of us who work in health care, throwing a bunch of administrators and accountants into the mix seems unlikely to help. Good medicine can't be reduced to a recipe.
Gawande might very well be right. But note that this argument might very well have been right about any industry at any point in history.

"Sure, maybe standardization and management and oversight and numerical analysis will help improve making cars/refining steel/baking bread/writing software/quarrying stone/brewing beer/filing taxes/selling books but I don't see how more administration will help. It's not just following a recipe, after all!"

Yes, many industries have too much bureaucracy, and yes, I am skeptical of bureaucracy as a solution for US health care problems. But I'm also skeptical of an argument that applies this broadly. It might be right, but it's also a generic counter argument to all reform, reorganization, and re-factoring.

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