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'High Price of Health'

December 18, 1987

I am a health-care worker working within neonatal intensive-care unit, and already pay $160 per month for health-care insurance for my dependents.

On a recent 12-hour shift I recalled your editorial only because of my duties. A registered nurse and I were on a transport via surface ambulance en route to pick up a premature infant at 1 a.m. Having arrived at the transferring hospital to attend the high-risk delivery ($590 per hour), I intubated the infant ($159) and then the RN started an IV ($60 per site) and transported the infant back to our base hospital. Of course, these charges are made by the doctor (the one back at the base hospital) and do not include many other charges, both by the doctor and the hospital.

Meanwhile, the team doing the work gets their hourly rate, which many hospitals consider too much, and the workers consider too low for the risk. Health-care costs keep going up, workers keep going down (leaving), doctors and hospitals charge more, and the insurance pays less. Is this the setting for a health-care crash?

T.H. JENKINS

Alhambra

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