Letter to the Editor

Health costs are excessive

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The real health care issue is the excessive cost of the current system in the U.S. Not only do we spend more than 16 percent of GDP on health care, compared with Canada's 9.7 percent, we also have shorter life spans. Where does the extra money go?

The Dartmouth Atlas, published jointly by the medical school and the economics department of Dartmouth University, has estimated 30 percent of health care spending in the U.S. is wasted. It buys us nothing beneficial.

It is easy to believe the more health care we receive, the better it is. In 2006 at least 60 million surgical procedures were performed in the U.S. More than 100,000 people died that year from complications of surgery and medical errors. This is many times the number killed in automobile accidents (source: New Yorker article by Dr. A. Gawande, June 1).

Many are upset by the possibility of tax increases to pay for vague reform proposals. I am also. But excessive spending on health care hurts all of us. The net result means substantial funds are not available for other personal or governmental spending or savings. This excessive burden is an ever-increasing handicap for the U.S. in competing economically with the rest of the world.

If we could lower spending to Canada's level, the savings would be $736 billion.

All bubbles burst. Health care spending in the U.S. is the latest bubble. Economist Herbert Stein once stated: "What can't continue won't"

STEVE RICKARD, Cape Girardeau