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Get the profit motive out of health care

Your Monday editorial on health care tells a small part of the story. “For-profit medicine” is the norm in only one country on the face of the Earth.

We pay 16 percent-plus of our entire national output for medical care, which is almost twice what any other country pays to provide care. That excess cost includes profit for everyone, tort cases and administrative costs, none of which provides care. Our health-care system is not the best in the world by any barometer.

When the system operates to provide a profit, only sick and injured people provide that profit. There is no incentive to keep the population healthy, so certain care — such as pre-natal — is lacking. There is no national motive to keep people healthy, so little is done to mitigate smoking, to address the abuse of prescription drugs, or encourage diet management. People who enter a hospital without insurance only come out in one of two ways: on a boot or in a bag.

We pay much, much more for nearly every drug produced, and get no more utility for that premium cost. People who enter hospital with insurance often find it hard to get back out, because their insurance is paying for the bed and the hospital must pay its bills.

Care now is rationed by the insurance companies, who often make decisions as to whether or not a particular patient can receive a recommended or needed procedure. I would trust the government long before I would trust a New York City accountant at an insurance company to decide whether or not I receive the care I need.

The U.S. system is unique in the world — and we suffer for it.

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