In recent years, the myth of the scientist-Magus has taken certain twists in the health-care arena. While some people still consider modem technology a Faustian bargain—new knowledge resulting in huge costs— others are looking elsewhere for villains. Our reimbursement system, the tendency of physicians to practice “defensive medicine,” consumer demand, extravagant claims made by the media, the emphasis in medical education on specialization, the unwillingness of people to take responsibility for their own health—all of these come in for their share of the blame regarding the rising cost of medical care. A closer look at this debate reveals that participants are circling around a major issue, but not directly grappling with it. That major issue is the increasingly chronic and unresolved character of illness. By focusing on chronic illness, we hope to demonstrate how contained is the current debate over cost.