The price of a cure

At a time when health care and its costs are center stage in the United States, it is interesting to note that a medical establishment that is so opposed to “socialized medicine” seems intent on making it inevitable.

Take a look at these news stories and see why it is hard not to reach that conclusion:

1. Median household income in the United States reached $59,039 in 2016 — an all-time high.

2. The Food and Drug Administration approved the first gene therapy treatment for use in the United States. Kymriah from health care giant Novartis will be used to treat a form of leukemia. It will cost $475,000.

The first item above seems to be very good news. Household incomes are on the rise again in the United States.

The second item also seems to be good news — gene therapies are on the way.

It is only when you combine the two items that one sees the bad news:

A treatment of the new gene therapy would cost an American household eight years’ worth of income.

Gene therapies now in development are designed to treat rare diseases. But if modifying DNA to prevent or cure illnesses works, more and more such therapies will be developed. With costs unchecked, medical inflation will reach new heights.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono reiterated in an interview with us last year what she has been stating for years — health care is a right, not a privilege. So, it is not surprising that she has joined a growing list of politicians backing Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all proposal.

If the free market won’t rein itself in, government will. Hello single-payer.

(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.