A Goldblog reader thinks I'm naive for believing that the profit motive should be removed from the health care system:

spent years publicizing the work of brilliant scientists and physicians at two Ivy League medical centers. They are incentivized both by an altruistic desire to eradicate disease and by the prospect of seeing some financial reward for their labors, even when it is postponed for years while they toil in their laboratories, working for subsistence wages, until, with luck, they have a breakthrough or discovery.  When a new drug, or treatment, or scientific technique does come to market, it's also a great boon for the university where the work is likely to have taken place, when they start to see an income stream from licensing their patent.  Take a look at any university with a large scientific research enterprise, and then look at their budget.  It's likely they are reaping significant revenue from intellectual property.  So it's a pillar of our educational establishment. These discoveries don't come out of a vacuum; scientists are just like anyone else, with families to support and expenses to be paid.  The difference is that they are willing to put their enjoyment of financial compensation on hold, while they invest extraordinary amounts of time on research that may or may not bear fruit.

The same is true in many respects of physicians, who accumulate significant debt attending medical school and postgraduate programs.  Don't we want to offer incentives to entice the most capable of our students into the medical profession?  There was a time when medicine was a lowly trade, practiced by journeymen.  I'm sure we don't want to relegate it to that diminished status again.

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