In debates on health-care reform, I often hear the question, “Who will pay for this?” My own question is slightly different: Where does our money for health care now go? Where has it gone for decades?

What we in this country pay for health care and medications is unconscionable.

For many years I have depended on two medications: Nasonex, a nose-spray, and Patanol, for my eyes. Because I am insured, my co-payment for Nasonex is $25; the actual cost is $131.99. The co-pay for Patanol is $50; the actual cost for this tiny bottle is $123.99.

I often spend time in Germany, my home country, where I also have taken groups of Bates College students for study abroad. I pay 13 Euros (about $19) for the same Nasonex. That is the actual price, as I am not insured in that country. For the eye drops, I pay 19 Euros (about $27).

This past fall, one student had a finger abscess that needed treatment, surgery and blood tests. He visited the doctor five times. As program director, I pay all the medical bills for the students. His total bill was only 310 Euros ($434). I have had dozens of students needing medical treatment or hospitalization in Berlin, Germany. In all cases I have been astonished by the reasonable costs for doctors, hospitals, procedures, X-rays, laboratory procedures and medications.

I’ll ask my question again: Who gets the huge sums of money we here in the U.S. spend on health care?

Gerda Neu-Sokol, Lewiston


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