In 1961, outgoing president Eisenhower warned of the dangers of a military-industrial complex.

Today’s numbers, however, suggest that the medical-industrial complex should be of even greater concern. The recent example of an ER charging $10,984 for a simple COVID-19 blood test is noteworthy not because it represents an aberration but because it exemplifies the practice of health care overcharging that occurs a million times each day in this country. The fraud is so pervasive as to have acquired a patina of legitimacy, a “business as usual” appearance that hides a deeply corrupt core.

The villains? Hardworking (and life-risking) doctors and nurses? Not really, although medical schools select on criteria that emphasize compliance and submission to authority more than independence and integrity. CEOs, CFOs, boards of directors? Probably. Insurance regulators? Probably. But the enablers are everyone with “pretty good” insurance who tacitly supports a pernicious system because ruinous medical bills are someone else’s problem.

Lack of accountability is at the crux. If one were given to unbridled optimism, one might believe our upcoming elections might produce leaders intellectually and morally capable of eradicating the cancer that is destroying the body politic from the inside. If …

Terry Wood, M.D., Pateros