I must respond to Dr. Daniel Bryant’s recent letter asking why we tolerate a health care system in which we give employers control over employees’ access to health care (“Medicare for all would let companies focus on business,” Nov. 4).

It was not always like this. Until the latter half of the last century, corporate America paid very little in the way of medical benefits to its employees. But in the 1960s and the 1970s, the nation’s human resources departments hit upon the “wellness” concept: A healthy employee (with a healthy family) was more productive.

So to promote wellness, the HR departments devised ways to encourage employees and their families to visit the doctor more frequently. This did produce healthier and more productive employees, and it kept the cost burden of a socialized medicine scheme off the backs of the taxpayers.

The problem with “wellness” is that it created new demand for services against a limited supply. The costs went up. Today, people expect “insurance” to pay for what amounts to routine health maintenance that most of us should be paying for out of our own pockets.

Suppose insurance companies were required to pay for the cost of replacing tires, batteries and car washes: One can only imagine what the cost of auto insurance would be. Take basic maintenance out of the equation, and Dr. Bryant may find himself lowering the cost of his services in the face of reduced demand.

The other driver behind the rising cost of health care is the steady development of new procedures, new technology and new drugs for treating and curing an ever-increasing list of heretofore incurable and untreatable maladies. But so far I have heard nobody calling for an end to this trend.

Michael A. Smith