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And you wondered why health care is expensive

John-John Williams has a piece in today's paper on the arms race among Baltimore hospitals to offer patients the most luxury.

OK, there is a quality-of-care argument to be made for private rooms. Patients without roommates tend to catch fewer bugs from other patients. And 32-inch flat-screen TVs in every room will not by themselves break the back of the national economy. But attempts to make hospitals look like the Grand Hyatt betray wider flaws in the health-care system.

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Patients love these upgrades in the same way that they love the latest and most in operations and tests. And why not? Even though many of these items may contribute little or nothing to improving patient health, patients for the most part don't have to worry about the extra cost -- at least not directly. So why not demand the in-house harpists and palatial lobbies? It's not your money -- until your insurance premiums and federal taxes get raised to pay for it all.


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