I agree with all this. Where conventional medicine is effective by all means use it, I do. And its irresponsible not treat communicable diseases. I also realize that ccfoo242 brought this up in response to a particularly silly incident so maybe a larger conversation about conventional healthcare wasn't expected. I just wanted to point out that the level of delusion in regards to conventional medicine is at least as high and the costs to society much greater. While tens or hundreds of thousands might partake in homeopathy I suspect that most are supplementing rather than foregoing conventional methods and others are trying to treat something not successfully treated by a doctor. This pales in comparison to the millions who spend their time on the couch eating crap then go to their doctors asking for the diabetes or cholesterol medicine they see advertised and having health insurance or medicare pay while doing nothing to change their habits. Or the millions who go to the doctor when they have a cold demanding antibiotics for them or their kids for a viral infection. The doctors usually oblige because their job is to make money for their employer or their partnership. Better to ineffectively treat with homeopathy than create more resistant strains of bacteria IMO. Or the perverse incentives for big pharma: pills that treat symptoms and provide instant relief for a condition or a pill to treat side effects of the other pills are very profitable, cures and preventative strategies are not and the public funding for R&D that had filled in the gaps is dwindling. Boner pill? Yes! Cure for breast cancer? No way!
I do agree with many of the concerns you bring up with some of the downfalls of our current healthcare system. Where I disagree is with your assessment of the incentives for big pharma. As a pharmacist at a location that specializes in women's medicine (and is involved in a considerable amount of ongoing research in the field), I wholeheartedly disagree that there is no incentive for a cure for breast cancer. Oncology treatment is by far one of the most profitable areas within our healthcare system as it is structured today. This is closely followed by finding treatments for rare disease states that currently do not have effective treatments available.
Could things be better? Absolutely. But to do so would involve blowing up our entire healthcare system and starting over from scratch - and I just don't see that happening. All I see is Band-Aid after Band-Aid being slapped onto a mediocre system.
And as another side note, as a pharmacist I think that direct-to-consumer marketing for prescription medications is BS. Especially for disease states that require close monitoring my a physician. You shouldn't be basing your diabetes or hypertension therapy based on a commercial. Your healthcare provider should be making that decision based solely on factors related to your health and medical history.