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Letter: Here's what is driving health care costs

Maurice Brandt offers readers some good advice in his latest letter to the editor, "We need to solve why health care costs so much," published July 11.

To find some answers, I did a Google search, which I presume Brandt will do as well. Some of the most current explanations I found are the two that follow.

First, from Noelle Sullivan, an assistant professor at Northwestern University, who writes: "Healthcare is so expensive in the United States because lobbyists within the healthcare industry ensure the government doesn't regulate the industry. While the cost of drugs is skyrocketing, we deplore the cost of insurance. Even if you're on private insurance, your taxpayer dollars are paying for the skyrocketing prices of necessary pharmaceuticals, which costs all of us more."

Brandt and others can read her blog in its entirety at this link:

Second, another perspective comes from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which cites three factors affecting health care costs: specialty drugs, chronic diseases and lifestyle.

Specifically, BCBS offers the following assessment: "The price of medical care is the single biggest factor behind U.S. healthcare costs, accounting for 90 percent of spending. These expenditures reflect the cost of caring for those with chronic or long-term medical conditions, an aging population and the increased cost of new medicines, procedures and technologies ...."

More is available at

I agree with Brandt that some people choose not to see a doctor. For example, I have a friend who is afflicted with "white coat syndrome," a condition where a person's blood pressure spikes in a clinical setting. This friend is so uncomfortable in a doctor's office that he once used a pair of needle-nose pliers to attend to his ingrown toenail.

On the other hand, I hope Brandt would agree with me that if someone doesn't visit a doctor's office only because he/she doesn't have the money, then that is not a choice. It is a tragedy. Furthermore, it is a failure of American society.

Hulse lives in Fargo.