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Letters to the editor, May 14

High health care costs

Republicans claim that if the government stays out of economic activity and lets free markets operate, the economy will be better off.

If a market leads to efficient resource use (that is, it produces what consumers want most and does so in the cheapest way), they are correct. If not, the government must intervene or the economy will be worse off.

An example is a monopoly, where a company has no competitors and can charge consumers whatever it wants. Our antitrust laws combat this abuse. U.S. health care is another example. The many inefficiencies of our health care market are explained by Steven Brill in the March 4 issue of Time magazine.

Our health care costs are 17 percent of our economy and rapidly increasing, while these costs are no more than 12 percent in any other country and many of these countries do better than the U.S. on most measures of health care outcomes, such as life expectancy, infant mortality and patient satisfaction.

These growing costs are making it more difficult for U.S. firms to compete in the global economy. If we continue to allow the health care market to operate as is, our economy will be badly damaged.

Bob Michaelsen,