It would be difficult to deny the need for more private hospital rooms after reading Bill Nemitz’s recent heartfelt column (“Maine Med sees room for improving ‘patient experience,’ ” Sept. 16), although it’s difficult to imagine that it’s necessary for Maine Medical Center to spend a half-billion dollars to make that happen.

It’s important to point out that this half-billion will increase our already astronomical health care costs, and likely do little to alter the fact that we outspend, by a large margin, every other industrialized country in the world.

That might be justified if we had better health outcomes. We don’t. We have shorter life expectancy and a higher prevalence of chronic conditions than many other countries that spend far less.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has reported that the U.S. spent 17.1 percent of its gross domestic product in 2013 on health care costs. That was almost 50 percent more than France, the next highest spender in the rankings. That’s money spent on illness care that can’t be spent on roads, schools, firefighters and all the other things that create a higher quality of life for everyone.

I have little doubt that Maine Med will continue to take over the West End of Portland. Nor do I doubt that we will all pay.

Mary Ann Larson