Vail Daily letter: Beware the medical complex

In the early 1950s, in his farewell speech President Eisenhower warned us that we should “beware of the military-industrial complex,” and if we did not, we would do so at our peril.

His words proved to be prescient, as this unholy alliance fueled a succession of devastating wars that followed in lockstep: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, to name a few.

The good news is that perhaps we have learned the hard way that it is unwise to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations, and that we simply do not have the resources to continue to serve in the role as the world’s only policeman. Though history has shown that this may not be the case as we do not seem to learn from past mistakes.

However, there is an even greater and far more costly threat to our nation that has thus far managed to remain under the radar, but like a fast-approaching stealth bomber, it is nearly upon us.

I am referring to what I hope will soon become recognized as the “medical-industrial complex” whose annual total cost of about $3 trillion (as estimated by the accounting firm of Deloitte) has now dwarfed that of the military’s budget.

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We are spending vast sums trying to repair what is already broken, and for the most part paying only lip-service to the major factors contributing to high health care costs such as the epidemic of obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc.

By effectively addressing these root causes head on, studies indicate that overall we could cut healthcare delivery costs in half by working upstream on prevention rather than downstream on very costly, and often ineffective, cures.

It is my hope that the next president of the United States will use his or her great power to stress the importance wellness (movement is the fountain of youth) and alert the nation to the dangers presented by the medical-industrial complex by presenting hard evidence that the expensive course we are on is not only unsustainable; but too often does little to improve the quality of the life many of us lead.

Peter Bergh


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