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Legislators to blame for high health-care costs

Letter to the editor

To the editor:

The Call recently published a letter asking the Legislature to focus on health care, not concealed weapons.

The writer was requesting legislative action to help control the upward spiraling cost of health insurance premiums.

I work in the health care field. I can tell you that the state Legislature — and the Congress — is probably the last place to look for help in controlling health care costs, since they are in large measure responsible for the upward spiral that has been occurring over the last few decades.

Health care was 3 percent to 4 percent of the economy prior to enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. It is now between 12 percent and 15 percent and rising.

Much of the rise has been due to reimbursement policies of Medicare and Medicaid that for many years promoted the costliest ways to deliver health care by not providing reimbursement for less costly means.

In more recent years, Medicare and Medicaid have cut back on reimbursement for care they have mandated. This has resulted in shifting of costs to private insurance carriers and individuals. Each of us feels this in our wallet in two ways.

We pay 2.9 percent of our income to fund Medicare and we pay increasing healthcare premiums for our families each year.

The other reason behind spiraling health care costs is the behavior of the American health-care consumer.

The incidence of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases is exploding in this country. We eat too much and exercise too little. As a result, we require increasingly intensive and costly care to keep us going during our adult and senior years.

Despite the belief by most public health experts that the incidence of chronic disease could be cut up to 70 percent if we changed our behaviors, all predictions are that we won't and that this is only going to get worse in the years to come. No legislation can change this.

Health care has become very expensive in the last 40 years. Living a healthier lifestyle will do far more to control costs than anything the legislature can do.

In fact, legislated remedies will probably lead to the same restrictions and rationing of health care that are found in countries that have national health-care systems.

Garland Tschudin


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