The NYT has a great article on the "evidence gap" in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers – namely, the US government ($15 billion) and private insurers ($5 billion) are paying for treatment centers that don't have proven track records. And the problem is likely to get worse due to recently passed legislation in Congress that mandates private insurers to "cover mental and physical ailments at equal levels." And people wonder why Americans spend so much on healthcare?
Megan McArdle says it best:
As a libertarian, of course, I just want to see drugs legalized. So I'm something of a bystander to the argument between liberals and conservatives over the relative benefits of spending money on treatment programs, and spending it on prisons.
[I]t's foolish to spend money on [on drug treatment programs that don't work.] On the other hand, prison doesn't really seem to do a good job of curing drug habits, and it also really screws up the lives of the people we sent there. It's almost . . . why, it's almost as if the libertarians were right all along!
I should add that this NYT story is part of their series called The Evidence Gap, which is essentially one long argument against government-funded healthcare, on the grounds that government agencies don't seem to be very good at making sure that the treatments they pay for actually work.