(CNN) — Smiling children are using prosthetic hands to open windows through which we can glimpse the future of health care — a future where outsiders and amateurs innovate along with insiders and professionals. The question is, “Will America lead the way, as it has for a century, or will it fall behind, as it has begun to do?”
My forthcoming Mercatus Center research “Fortress and Frontier in American Health Care” argues that leading requires us to abandon the partisan rancor over health insurance (“Obamacare” vs. “repeal and replace”) and focus, instead, on innovating our way to better health.
FDA-approved prosthetic hands cost around $40,000. Several years ago, a South African carpenter lost some fingers in an accident and collaborated with a Washington state puppetmaker to invent a vastly more affordable device.
They adapted a 19th-century metal-and-whalebone design for a 21st-century 3-D printer to produce a hand that allows users…
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