To the editors:
David Moberg's recent article, "Irrational Health: The View From Two Hospitals" (July 9), on the sorry state of the American health care system emphasizes the role of the explosive growth in the number of administrative personnel in driving up this nation's health care costs. While the link between growing administrative staffs and rising costs cannot be disputed, the salary figures presented for administrative personnel and for physicians strongly suggest that the astronomical levels of physicians' salaries and their rapid escalation must also play a significant role in rising costs. Moberg quotes James Doyle, vice president for finance at Elmhurst Memorial, for example, as stating that utilization review at the hospital requires seven to eight full-time nurses "at $30,000 to $35,000 a year." Thus, the combined salaries of all of these personnel equal the annual salary of just one self-employed specialist physician, which (to again quote the article) was "between $200,000 and $300,000 in 1988."
I have long suspected that rising health care costs, at least in metro Chicago, might somehow be related to BMW and lakefront home purchases by area physicians. Mr. Moberg's article suggests that my suspicions may not be completely unfounded.
Mark L. Dietz, PhD