Charlie Munger: Health-care providers 'are artificially prolonging death so they can make more money'

CNBC

Berkeley Lovelace Jr.@BerkeleyJr

Published 8:50 AM ET Mon, 7 May 2018  Updated 9:25 AM ET Mon, 7 May 2018CNBC.com

  • The U.S. health-care system is "shot through with rampant waste," Charlie Munger tells CNBC.
  • "A lot of the medical care we do deliver is wrong," he says.
  • He claims, "A lot of our medical providers are artificially prolonging death so they can make more money."

The U.S. health-care system is "shot through with rampant waste" and has become "immoral," billionaire investor Charlie Munger told CNBC on Monday.

"A lot of the medical care we do deliver is wrong — so expensive and wrong. It's ridiculous," Munger, a vice chairman at Berkshire Hathaway, said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "A lot of our medical providers are artificially prolonging death so they can make more money," he claimed.

Munger, who has served as chairman of the board of trustees at Good Samaritan Hospital for the past 31 years, added that he regards some current health-care practices as "deeply immoral."

The billionaire investor predicted that the next time Democrats manage to take control of all three branches of government, "we will get single payer medicine." Bernie Sanders, who ran as a Democrat during the 2016 elections, has pushed for a health system that provides services to all citizens.

"I think it's so bad that people will reach out for a complete change, forced by the government," Munger said. He said a universal health-care system with an "opt-out" is a "perfectly reasonable system."

Longtime investing partner Warren Buffett has made similar remarks. Buffett said earlier this year that health-care spending is a "tapeworm on the economic system." He added the private sector can do more to lower health-care costs than the government can.

Berkshire's Buffett, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and J.P. Morgan's Jamie Dimon announced in January a venture designed to cut health costs and improve services for their U.S. employees. The three hope their companies sheer sizes will help bring the necessary scale and resources to tackle the health-care system's most pertinent issues.

Speaking at the Berkshire annual shareholder meeting, Buffett said that he hoped a chief executive would be found within a couple of months for the health-care company.

Lowering the cost of health care and improving outcomes will be much tougher than it appears, experts say, with health spending representing 18 percent of gross domestic product and is seen as rising.

Buffett and Munger spoke to the tens of thousands of attendees on a wide range of topics at Berkshire's annual meeting on Saturday.

Dan Geiger