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An example of a hurdle to nationalized health care December 17, 2008

Posted by neoavatara in Health Care, Politics.
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Accuray's Cyberknife Radiation Treatment System

Accuray's Cyberknife Radiation Treatment System

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/17/health/policy/17knife.html?hp

This article gives laymen a little insight into how hard a problem it will be to get a truly national health care plan.

A little background:  Cyberknife is a very accurate radiation treatment system.  Unlike traditional radiation, which gives a wider field of radiation, Cyberknife, made by Accuray, uses a more targeted approach to treating cancer.  Additionally, these treatments are generally cheaper than traditional radiation treatments; for prostate cancer, for example, the difference is around $20,000 for Cyberknife versus $50,000 for traditional radiation.

Sounds great, right?  Well, he is the road bump.  There is limited science with cyberknife.  There are no good large scale studies to show if it actually works.  The problem in medicine is that unfortunately, just because something is logical doesn’t mean it will work.  Many oncologists and radiation oncologists are optimistic, but holding final determination.

Using new cutting edge techniques without large scale data is nothing new in oncology.  Here is the government problem:  How does the government determine if a treatment should be paid by the government health care insurance?  If we need ‘good’ science, that means large scale studies must be performed first, which in turn may delay treatments to large numbers of patients.  If we allow doctors to make the decision, there will clearly be a double standard, because there are many doctors and companies benefiting from these procedures, both for and against the new technology.  And allowing beaurocrats to make the decision will ultimately make the decision come down to dollar and cents.

This is only a small example of the obstacle course waiting for President-elect Obama on the health care issue.

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