Don't Blame High Tech For High Health Costs

Health-care costs are not rising because of technological advances ("A crisis of medical success," Economics, Mar. 15). If this were true, personal computers would have had similar price increases. Health-care costs are climbing because current delivery systems place few cost restrictions on their participants. By socializing health services, group health plans and medicare remove the cost constraints that limit every other activity. Said removal is akin to turning children loose in a candy store.

Michael C. Betts

Free Union, Va.

The article leaves the impression that innovation is somehow the major cause of the high cost of health care.

Far from being responsible for "30% to 40%" of the growth in spending on health care that Judith R. Lave speculates, the purchase of medical technology accounts for less than 5% of total health expenditures. What drives up costs is inappropriate use of technology. And this industry has long supported outcome research as a tool to determine which treatments or procedures work best.

Alan H. Magazine


Health Industry Manufacturers Assn.