• Sliding-scale health care
    November 14,2013

    Sliding-scale health care

    Andrew Torre raises some good points in his commentary on the crisis in health care in Sunday’s paper (Nov. 10). Certainly a driving force in the cost of health care is the ability to do so much more than was the case just a generation or two ago. The pace of change is continuing to escalate, and we will most likely see dramatic changes in our ability to replace body parts (hearts, pancreas, ??) and to have targeted health care based on our DNA.

    But why is health care in the U.S. so much more expensive than in other countries when our results are mediocre at best? The answer is at once complex and simple to understand. Many, maybe most, do not care much about the cost of health care. People with the greatest power in our country, the wealthy, pay only a tiny fraction of their income toward health care — so more is better. Pull out all the stops. Hospitals in easy distance with all the latest technology and experts — doesn’t matter much that costs soar.

    Next there are all those covered by their employer’s policies. Most have no idea of the amount of their pay that was forgone to pay that cost. The focus we’ve had on paying for health care through the workplace would make sense if there were some correlation between work and the need for health care — but there is none.

    Paying the cost for health care is the most regressive major tax that we have because the cost is the same for virtually all income groups while the ability to pay is not. There would be a much greater push for efficiency in the delivery of health care if all parties paid the same percentage of their income for this care.

    This is how it should be.

    Norm Etkind


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