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My personal healthcare rant



Last January I noted that the FDA was barring me from obtaining software that might significantly improve my hearing. The software has been available to European and Canadian recipients of cochlear implants for quite some time, and studies there have shown that most patients experienced significant improvement. A few months ago I participated in a clinical trial of the software (which is necessary before the FDA will consider approving the software here) and found that indeed the software was a significant improvement. Faced with the likelihood that it will take the FDA up to a year to determine that yes, this software is an improvement, I decided to take a trip to Canada to get the software installed there so I wouldn't have to wait for the cumbersome FDA approval process. I even learned that the company that makes the implants is planning to offer the software as a free upgrade to anyone who wants it.

So you would think it wouldn't be a big deal. But today I received this news from the Canadian audiologist I planned to visit: "I was clearing everything with my department head, but I was told that I am not allowed to see patients from out of the country. I was told there were medical legal issues with seeing a patient who is not a resident of Canada." 

This is not only a great example of how government bureaucracies can infringe on personal liberties, but also a reminder of how deeply government can intrude in our lives. And here I'm only talking about an innocuous piece of computer code that will eventually be distributed for free. Imagine if it were a life-saving procedure.... The ghost of Kafka must be looking over my shoulder and laughing right now.

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