Health care: Readers respond to last week's Forum topic

by Lesley Politi on April 10, 2009

Health care: Readers respond to last week’s Forum topic



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Published: Sunday, Apr. 5, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 3E

Here are a few of the responses to last week’s Forum article, “Everybody’s got a stake in reforming health care.” Readers are responding to the question: Should health care reform include the choice of a public insurance plan?


It’s about choice


Absolutely. And the critical word is “choice.” No one has to take it. Let’s defuse the knee-jerk reactions of “socialized medicine” and “government bureaucrats making medical decisions.” Let people choose. We will then see how private insurers can compete with a nonprofit public plan. The industry and the right cry out because they know they can’t. It’s immoral to make a profit selling health insurance. But we don’t have to make it illegal. When people can choose between identical coverage at a high or low cost, few will choose to pay more.

Service everywhere is rationed, even in high-cost private plans. How anyone can believe there’s a difference between a public or a private bureaucrat rationing service is beyond me. If anything, private insurance rationing is more severe as they try to protect their profits. A more useful discussion would involve the level of funding and returning medical decisions to medical professionals.

– Lawrence Bernstein, Sacramento


Socialists love health reform


Any health care reform coming out of Washington will be a rehash of Hillary-Care from the ’90s. President Barack Obama’s socialist handprint will be all over any new plan. Also, the more radical the plan, the more support it will get from the media.

As a 68-year-old retiree I don’t welcome any reform run by Washington.

One final thought. If we add millions to the health care rolls, where are we going to get the doctors to treat them? If your readers think they have a long wait now to see their doctor, just wait until after reform comes along.

– Roy H. Wallis Sr., Lake Almanor


Leave profit out of health care


There is one aspect of the current health care system that, because it is systemic and, in fact necessary for the maintenance of a for-profit system, I find troubling. There will always be a competition between supplying health care and balancing corporate profits. It is a very simple equation. The more they pay out in health care, the less money the corporation makes.

This isn’t a bad thing. This is the way essentially all business models work. Make a product cheaper and increase your profit. Buy for less, sell for more. For 35 years, the insurance industry has made this model work to perfection. It is extraordinarily profitable. Unfortunately, this is exactly the reason for-profit health care can never work for people. The customer will always be on the “sucker” end of the equation.

The need to maintain profit leads to one other very messy problem. Corporate propaganda tells us that we want doctors to be making the decisions. The people who are actually making most of our medical decisions are corporate accountants. My doctor tells me every procedure has to be OK’d through the proper insurer. Every prescription has to be checked to see if the insurer approves and will pay. Somewhere there are mid-level employees deciding who is important enough or rich enough to justify the corporate expenditure, who will live and who will die.

The worst part is knowing with certainty that the people who are supposed to be watching your back aren’t, because they are watching their own. This is one area where “the marketplace” is totally unsuited to the nature of the public need. We have to discuss public care. Health care is too important to leave to this corporate model.

– Clifford Lanxner, Applegate


What’s behind rising costs?


It seems to me that most of the rising costs are not generated as much by doctors, nurses, hospitals and staff but primarily by the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry. I can understand the rising costs of the pharmaceutical industry associated with developing their therapies. However, the method with which we pay for all of this in the United States by using private insurance, I believe, is the main source of our problem.

This payment system has a built-in conflict of interest pitting the insurance industry against the patient. The patient wants to be well and the insurance companies want to keep the money they make from premiums, thus denying service to the patient. As a result, this argument is focusing on the right to be healthy vs. the right to a profit. Unfortunately, we may not be able to have both, so we as a people will need to make a choice. We also need to remember that the government is us, the people, not a business.

Should we take it upon ourselves to pay for our own health care, or do we always want to be up against an entity ever thirsty for higher profits?

– Leonard Thompson, Sacramento


The real question


The question shouldn’t be “Why have the choice of a public insurance plan?” but rather “Why (except for truly elective procedures) have the choice of a private health care insurance plan?” We are virtually the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t have a national health care plan. Do all of the other nations have it wrong and the United States is the only one that has it right? I don’t think so.

Generally speaking, police and fire departments are not privately owned or funded, so, assuming that most subscribe to that arrangement, is the public need for affordable, quality health care access to all any less important? I am well aware that there would be many problems and pitfalls associated with a single-payer national health care plan and I understand that it would not be a panacea, but I believe that it would be a definite improvement over our current system.

– Norman Shvemar, Davis


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