[ExI] How to get a healthy country

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Wed Oct 17 04:10:36 UTC 2007

On Oct 16, 2007, at 6:08 PM, James Clement wrote:
> I'm no doctor, but it seems to me that the "detection and  
> treatment" process
> doesn't kick in until the condition is acute.  IMHO there's a big  
> difference
> between PREVENTING a disease and waiting until something is  
> terribly wrong
> and then trying to notice it as soon as possible and then treat it.

Most of, at least, the economics literature I am aware of seems to  
indicate that prevention does not buy you anything worth the expense  
beyond the very rudimentary.  Aggressive prevention has a very low  
return on investment any way you calculate it and gives much better  
return invested in advanced and available treatment.  Are you arguing  
that this is incorrect?

Ignoring the whole "healthy lifestyle and diet" thing which is rarely  
controlled for, it seems that the optimal situation from a healthcare  
standpoint is basic prevention -- which the entire industrialized  
world has -- and very advanced and fast treatment of problems as they  
occur.  By the standards of most western countries, the treatment  
turnaround in the US after a problem is reported is extremely short,  
which undoubtedly also helps.  I was reading something the other day  
that stated the US has five times as many MRI machines per capita as  
Canada (and not surprisingly shorter waits for such machines), and at  
least in US medicine MRI machines are considered essential diagnostic  
technology that improve treatment performance.  But if the Canadian  
population is doesn't have a crap lifestyle and diet relative to the  
USians they will still be healthier.

The US has perfectly adequate prevention, a crap lifestyle and diet,  
and superior medical treatment.  The crap lifestyle and superior  
medical treatment essentially cancel each other out and leave the US  
as an average country statistically.  Some European countries have a  
healthier lifestyle, but get taken down a couple notches because the  
medical treatment is not as good or available as in the US.

If you want spectacular results, combine a healthy lifestyle with US  
medical treatment performance.  There are regional demographics in  
the US that already outperform any other equivalent demographic in  
the world.  Even among the individual US states the average life  
expectancy range is 8-9 years(!), so clearly there is a rather large  
standard deviation at play here that gets lost when averaging the  
continent.  Since we are all individuals rather than averages,  
individual Americans should take advantage of the superior medical  
treatment by also leading a healthy lifestyle.


J. Andrew Rogers

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list