Letters to the Editor, Sept. 20

Conservative thoughts

Two items have outstripped inflation during the past decades: medical care and education. Why?

One obvious reason for increased costs of medicine is good: new understandings, treatments and technologies (some scanning devices cost in excess of $1M). But why does every “first rate” hospital have to own one? They could be shared. Prestige costs excessive money.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, my family saw a physician whose fee was $3 per office visit and a house call (really!) was $5. Now with inflation a consultation is at least $100 and house calls are hardly even remembered.

Then every patient knew what he/she was paying. With the advent of insurance and government entitlements, few know what’s being charged. (And, don’t care.) So, that has made many physicians increase fees as a result of avarice.

Education: in 1973, when I began graduate school at Columbia, my aunt who had attended during the 1940’s. She asked me how much I paid for tuition. “$96.” She was shocked and told me that she had paid $10. This is a pattern which envelopes almost all universities – college and graduate school. Now Columbia, the other Ivy League schools and even the overrated NYU, charge over $1,200 per credit.

Why? Certainly Columbia has an endowment of about a zillion dollars. The cost exists because they can and students keep on applying. Loans have to be taken by many students.

Public primary and secondary education keep on receiving more monies – yet the result is that today’s undergraduates are being exposed to yesterday’s high school curriculum.

For medical care and education to be effective, the free market should be used: be sure to let patients know what is being paid per visit and procedure. (The higher the fee, the more insurance has to be paid.) And universities must be made more demanding in curriculum and far more competitive in their fees – so that post graduates are not burdened for practically the remainder of their lives.

Some on the right speak of “European socialism.” Well, some unworkable and ineffective form is what’s going on here.

David Chowes, PCV

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