Outcomes are not an exact science

I was reading a column last week that asked whether Canadians were  getting good value per dollar from their health insurance system? because health care is such as important issue to us.

The analysts wrote: “…it’s imperative that the appropriate outcomes are measured in order to accurately assess the economic performance of a health insurance system.”

Wow, remember the days (here we go again) when it was one province, one health care?

As soon as I saw the word “outcomes”, my teeth started grinding together.Whether the analysts wrote in the rest of the column is not the issue here. At issue is “outcomes” from the big business (and BC Liberals) viewpoint.

I’m not against measuring outcomes. It’s kind of like unit pricing in the grocery store, except outcomes tries to come up with a list of the certainties as well as the variables of a situation and use it to determine future outcomes.

Ah, seeing into the future again.

Outcomes are useful because you want to know if paying for something is worth it. It helps keep those spending our money accountable.

But everyone has their own definition of “worth it”.

Depending on which side of the political scale you sit on, the money will be either well spent or wasted.

When commercial interests are involved – and it’s no secret that the Liberals are the business owners and we are the customers – outcomes are used to determine whether the business will benefit.

When outcomes are used to measure health, they need to measure many intangibles. For instance, how do you measure disease prevention? How do you know whether you’ve prevented a disease or not?

And yet, I’ve seen outcomes used as an absolute measurement. If subtracting A from B will result in outcome C, then we’re doing it.

And once the arm is removed, the damage is done.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal