Students from Oceanside High School in Rockland and Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro addressed the public Thursday evening, Dec. 15, with four presentations on the topic of "Controlling U.S. Health Care Costs" as part of the continuing Informed Young Leaders Series.

Ryan Harding, a senior at Medomak Valley, started the evening presentations with his talk on "Breaking the Physician and Hospital Trusts in the Medical Industry," stating that the relationship between physicians and hospitals creates a closed system that lacks transparency and impedes efforts to reduce prices. He compared the current health care system to the oil and banking industries under the influence of J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, and suggested we need a trust-buster like President Teddy Roosevelt to lead efforts to break the current trusts in the interests of lowering health care costs for everyone.

Alexa Barstow, a sophomore at Oceanside, talked about "How the Cost of Medical School Affects the Cost of Health Care." stating that the high cost of medical school forces a lot of medical students to choose specialized fields that pay more so they can repay their loans quicker. As a result, we are left with a shortage of primary-care physicians, who make roughly a third of what a cardiologist makes, and can often provide more affordable and cost-effective preventive treatment, especially for treatment of chronic illnesses, which account for 75 percent of health care spending in the U.S.

Peter Alexander, a senior at Medomak Valley HS, talked about "America’s Personal Health Accountability Problem," saying the personal lifestyle choices we make, especially our diet, greatly affect the consumption of health care over the course of our entire lives. He stated that chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and tobacco-related illnesses are driven largely by choices individuals make regarding diet and exercise, and that individuals should be held accountable for the choices they make.

The final speaker of the evening was Ryan Lynch, a freshman at Oceanside, who talked about the "Key Drivers of Health Care costs in the U.S." Among the major causes for high health care costs, he cited the basic system of paying for health care on a fee-for-service basis; consolidation among hospitals and physician groups, reducing competition; and, lack of transparency in costs and pricing;

At the conclusion of the four presentations, the students engaged with the audience in an active round of questions and answers.

For more information contact Nick Lapham at nick@informedyoungleaders.com or check out the group's website at informedyoungleaders.com.