QUESTION: “The U.S. House and Senate are completing drafts of health care reform legislation. President Barack Obama has said he wants Congress to pass the legislation so he can sign it this fall. What do you believe must be included in that legislation to resolve the health insurance crisis in the U.S.?”
Real Public Option; Choice
The most attractive and beneficial, for the society as a whole, would be the single-pay system that is standard in most of the industrial nations of Europe. The reality, of course, is that Obama himself has already ruled this out as undoable given the historical and political conditions that prevail in the US today.
Having passed on that, the irreducible minimum the American people should insist upon is a public option alternative to the current system that will, in a short time, implode like the so-called free-enterprise system did beginning in 2008. The current system excludes some 45 million who have no health insurance at all. The cost of the current system runs about $2 trillion a year and provides less health care and protection than any of the health systems in Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand, for example. We can only expect the costs to rise and the service in general to deteriorate over the next 5 years.
Obama must see that the public option is on the table and that he holds the feet of the Democrats in Congress to the fire—they either support a public option or they can expect nothing from his office by way of support down the line. The opposition to a public option is entrenched and powerful—Big Pharma, the insurance industry, Rightwing bloggers like Rush, Hannity, O’Reilly, the GOP and the newpaper czar Rupert Murdoch, and people of his ilk.
Obama and the Americam people must see to the creation of an authentic public option. One that allows for a real choice in medical programs.
Dr. Gerald D. McKnight
Disconnect Insurance from Employment
1) Health Insurance should not be tied to employment.
In our society, we expect employees to be fungible. They have to be able to go from job to job as needed. We do not expect employers to be loyal to their employees. If a company has to cut costs, employees are the first to go. Older employees that can be replaced with younger, cheaper employees are a common target for termination.
Having health insurance tied to employment results in people being uninsured when they least can afford insurance. It also creates a problem for older people and people with pre-existing conditions who are terminated. Employers don’t want to hire older individuals or individuals with pre-existing conditions and insurance companies don’t want to insure them.
Having health insurance tied to employment also gives US companies a disadvantage against foreign companies who don’t have to pay for health insurance.
2) Insurers can’t be allowed to avoid individuals with medical conditions and must pay all health costs.
Two-thirds of health care costs in the U.S. are paid for through Medicare and Medicaid. Private insurers are making their money by insuring individuals who need health care the least.
Sixty-one percent of bankruptcies are a result of medical bills. Three-quarters of that 61% of bankruptcies had health insurance. No one should have to pay for health insurance that doesn’t pay all the costs and won’t keep you out of bankruptcy.
3) We need universal health care to avoid the costs of sales commissions and exorbitant executive pay.
James K. McCabe
McCabe & McCabe, Ltd.
Health is in the Nation’s Interest
The most important item to include in any health reform legislation is single payer. For too long private insurers have controlled individual access to health care, which I see as a right, not a privilege; that should not be controlled by corporations. Millions have no health coverage at all, and thousands lose theirs every day by losing their jobs in this recession. Does anyone ever ask why health care should be tied to employment? Consider that a healthy society is also in the nation’s interests, not only the individual’s.
Private insurers routinely deny care for so-called “pre-existing conditions,” even those only marginally related to a current illness, and they too often deny life-saving procedures. They raise premiums unconscionably when their insured become sick and try to use the medical benefits for which they have been paying all along. And they do it in the name of profit! Why does profit control an individual’s health care?
Further, why don’t private insurers cover more preventive care? Money would be saved in the long run, not to mention how much improved patient outcomes would be. But CEOs get credit for short-term profits earned during their tenure, not long-term profits, regardless of the impact on patients.
As an employee, I was covered by private insurance and have witnessed such problems all too often. Government programs don’t require profit, and I’m hoping we won’t be “Harry and Louise’d” out of single payer. I have also been covered by military medical care and Medicare, both government-run programs, and have never had a bureaucrat get between me and my doctors. But private insurers intervene in a doctor’s care every day of the week to control their costs and ensure a profit. In a word, it’s sickening! Private insurers need some competition to keep them in check.
Americans are unhealthy, live shorter lives and have a higher rate of infant mortality, and we pay far more for our health care than Europeans, who suffer no loss of the individual liberties we have. In fact, their freedom is enhanced by the “portability” of their single-payer health care, independent of their employment.
The insurance companies are, shall I say, “deathly” afraid of single payer, and they will fight it. We must fight back by holding our elected representatives accountable. Senator Durbin said the banks own the Senate, but we should be suspicious of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies also owning it twice over.
Appalling to Exclude Single-payer
My opinion is that we in this country desperately need a health plan like the single-payer plan which has been working for years in most of Europe and Canada. It is outrageous that this plan is not ”on the table” with the 15 other plans in Congress.
The “consumer co-op compromise” that the Senate is discussing at present only serves to kill the full public health insurance option.
For so long, the nation has been strongly influenced by both the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. They have lied to us about what can happen under a single-payer plan, claiming it will mean we can’t choose our own doctors and will have to wait for long periods of time to get any medical help. This seems to be nonsense. I have talked with many people in England and in Canada who say it is not true. They are very grateful for their socialized health plans and feel very sorry for us in the U.S. with the situation we are in.
If people are frightened by “socialized” programs, they might think again about our socialized libraries, socialized schools for our children, socialized parks across the country, our socialized Medicare program for those with disabilities and the elderly, etc., etc. We need a plan, such as single-payer, which will cover the millions who have nothing and live in dread of being ill. Those who can afford to pay and are happy with paying insurance companies, can continue on that road.
We also need to change the use of money that special interests and lobbyists use to “pay off” our Congress people. This is disgraceful.
St. Johnsbury, Vt.
Let Us Care for Each Other
Our way of seeking health care as a system should be the same as our conception of firefighting. Although the days of bucket brigades (in which everyone in the community carried water to put out a fire) are gone, and firefighting is now done by professionals hired for the job, the responsibility for providing a system to fight fires still must be shouldered by every able member of the community. And the benefits of the system are shared by everyone equally, regardless of taxpaying status.
So should it be with our medical needs. We should provide for each other, through our representative government, everything we need in the way of health care. Nothing should be left out except elective procedures such as cosmetic surgery not required by a disfiguring accident. The fact that we have the ability to do this and yet must debate whether we should do this shows what fools we are. Let us be wise, and say, “First we must pay for this, our health care, then we can allow our military to purchase hammers at a price of $750 per and nails for a dollar apiece if that is our pleasure.”
Law Office of Aron Laub
Woodland Hills, Calif.
Public Option Essential
Legislation must include a public option, completely handled by the government. This option must include full ability to negotiate prices and services. Any bill that does not contain this provision will not fix the problem. The proposed comprises are either plans that will put more money in the insurance companies’ pockets or plans that will neither reduce costs nor provide affordable health care for everyone. It is time for our president and our Congress to decide whether they want a solution that will serve the American people or a bill that will continue to enrich the insurance companies. I have two children facing a world where they will either not have health insurance or will have to pay a huge premium for a bare-bones plan that only covers catastrophic events. As a union officer, I would love to be able to not spend all our time negotiating on new contracts fighting about this issue. Think of the things we could accomplish in the areas of pensions and safety if we could just say, “Keep your plan, boss! The rank and file is going to take the public option!”
Prudhoe Bay, Ala.
Care for All Now
Universal public single-payer health care coverage for every man, woman and child in the United States and its territories, now. The tyranny of actuarial tables and the completely unregulated accumulation of vast wealth based on statistical probabilities and clever investments has come to its inevitable greed-fueled implosion.
It should never have been acceptable to the American people to start with; had anyone ever put forth the proposition that a third of the people in our nation should go without health care so that a tiny sliver of the population could have private jets, no one would have agreed – but they never asked us.
St. Paul, Minnesota
National Health Care System Needed
We don’t need health care reform any more than we needed welfare reform in 1994. We need a real health care system run by the government and financed with taxes like Medicare. We are the only industrialized country without national health care, yet we spend twice as much as other countries for half the care. Our money goes to profits for the medical industry rather than health care and prevention. Congress listens to paid lobbyists and takes major campaign funds from the medical industry. Then, it parrots their arguments to justify doing nothing.
Economic collapse has not changed our spendthrift ways. We spend our money on war, weapons, and corporate excess in the name of national security. The working class pays for these extravagances with both blood and money, and gets shafted in return. We must insist on our rights to health, housing, education, food, and energy. National security and public safety do not exist without them!
Some developing nations and third world countries have refused to cut programs that protect workers, retirees and children. To pay for their investments in the citizenry they are levying taxes on large corporations and the wealthy and eliminating programs that give tax breaks to private sector endeavors. The Scandinavian countries and Germany are also maintaining their social networks while reining in other expenses.
In the 60s, President Johnson was accused of buying guns and butter, without being able to afford both. Our 21st Century government has decided to only buy guns: To hell with the butter! The truly sad thing is that the amount we spend on the military and weapons is far more then we would need to spend on domestic programs and does nothing to improve our standard of living
Carol R. Campbell
Why Not Single-payer?
Why, oh why isn’t single-payer national health on the table? Why does the government insist on protecting and preserving the health insurance industry which contributes absolutely nothing to health care while adding to cost and interfering with health care delivery? OK, if Obama and the politicians can’t or won’t deliver single-payer, then there must at least be a strong, comprehensive public, government program as an alternative to the private insurers.
Stop Talking, Start Covering
The only solid answer to the health-care mess in the United States is to stop all the gumming that’s going on and go full-speed ahead for a unified single-payer program that emulates Canada and provides coverage for all citizens.
The health-insurance and big pharma lobbies should be run over with a steamroller, so we can and eliminate the billions of funds wasted on the for-profit “insurance” schemes whose primary business is to find ways to deny payment for needed medical expenses. A tight leash must be placed around the pharmaceutical industry’s neck to ban those “ask your doctor” advertisements, and drug prices should be negotiated, as they are in Canada, by a single-payer government program that spreads the medical risks by covering everyone, no exceptions, no problem with “pre-existing conditions.”
This is not socialism. This is to acknowledge that health care is as much as right as public education and police and fire protection in a civilized society.
J. Tyler Resch
North Bennington, Vt.
No Exclusion for Illness
Since it looks they are not going to the single-payer, a must is waiver of pre-existing conditions, caps or schedule of payment for doctors, hospitals, etc. An MRI cannot cost $2,000 in one place and the same test $5,000 elsewhere. Preventive medicine and nutritional advice are also very important. That will reduce costs in the long run.
Lourdes C. Garcia
Simi Valley, Calif.
Single-payer System Needed
The USA needs strong single-payer health care.
Call to Support Single-payer
Single-payer is the only option that meets the criteria that President Obama has set forth.
There is a single-payer bill before the House. It is H.R. 676, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers. It currently has 79 co-sponsors. It needs 280 to pass. Can you get your Representative to sign-on?
In the Senate there is S. 703. The major problem is a Republican filibuster, meaning 60 instead of 51 votes are needed. In addition, some of the Democrats in a position of authority, like Sen. Baucus, oppose it. The great mass of ordinary people need to make their weight felt to overcome the overwhelming financial influence of the insurance companies.
Cut the Paperwork
For reform to save money, it’s got to get doctors off piece work. See http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Easy answer: We must make sure that the health care that we, the citizens, are paying for doesn’t go to an illegal population. Are we required to provide social services to the world?
Reform to Solve Debt Crisis
Health care reform should be passed in the fall to prepare America to solve its ever-burgeoning long-term debt crisis. However, such legislation must include a timetable of a priority agenda that sets it in motion only after recovery of the economy.
The fact is if we pass a national health care plan, it can actually lower the corporations’ costs of benefits to their employees and make American companies more cost effective against foreign companies that avoid such costs.
Any new health care legislation has to be planned for implementation over years and must be paid for by having a healthy economy restored before actual implementation. Such benefits cannot be paid for by debt but must be paid for in new ways to dream. This may include new taxes on fast food, soft drinks, corn and corn products, and carbohydrates that add to obesity and often cause health problems.
In closing, only unions working with corporations and professionals can make this happen and look out for families and people in need, and that is why Unions Matter!
Care Same as Congress’
We should have the same health care as our elected representatives. Our president, senators and congress people have a single-payer system that meets everyday medical needs. If these representatives won’t provide the same for us, they should give up their health care.
Alvy L. King
Single-payer or Public Option
I am writing about health care reform because I believe strongly that we need single-payer health care, and I would urge its adoption. If not that, then we should certainly have a government-backed plan to compete with private insurers.
Kennett Square, Pa.
Eliminate the Profit Motive
My opinion is that we should have a national health insurance plan with premiums paid to a government program similar to Medicare. The premiums should be able to pay the providers a reasonable amount for the services provided, and the insured should be able to choose the providers that best serve them. We need to eliminate the profit motive.
William R. McDonald
Long Beach, Calif.
Eliminate Health Industry
Single-payer health care: Not some sort of coercive “national health insurance.” An effort to address the health care crisis in this country is not worth the spent political capital if it stops anywhere short of single-payer. The point is not to reform the health insurance industry. The point is to eliminate it!
TriMet Capital Project Planning
Affordable Health Care for All
There must be affordable health care for everyone. This protects hospitals and physicians as well as their patients. Anything else is unthinkable.
Nancy Kay Kennedy
Single-payer is best. At the very least a public option is necessary. Also there are tons of people not covered by Medicaid who have no money and no job. These people need to be covered free.
Pay for the public option by a pay roll tax on those with incomes. Let people keep their private insurance (if they still want it) and allow for income tax deductions of all premiums and co-pays etc.
Eliminate the Bureaucrat
Get rid of the middle man, the bureaucrat. With the HMO, a patient needs to make an unnecessary visit to the primary care doctor to get an authorization for a specialist. I have a pimple or a boil or a cyst on the back of my neck. I have had this before when I had an old fashioned plan. I called the dermatologist, got an appointment within three days and went in; he looked at it, and said what needed to be done. The office visit and the time the doctor spent in doing the procedure was about 20 minutes, and problem was solved. (There was some wait time when the nurse injected the anesthetic and we waited for it to work.)
Now I need to call my primary care doctor for an appointment, wait a week get one, spend 45 minutes in her waiting room. Then she spends 3 1/2 minutes looking at my swollen bump. She records into her recorder or writes on my chart and instructs the receptionist to get an authorization and forward it to the dermatologist.
I can call him two days later. They have an answering system. But I’ll have to wait the rest of the afternoon for someone to call me back. They look for the authorization, find it, look for an open time, no not this week, next OK.
Time spent in this office waiting is 45 minutes. He looks at it. By now it is much worse. He says he needs to get authorization to deal with it. And it needs to be done in the hospital. So far 10 hours of accumulated doctor and staff time in doctors’ offices and at the bottleneck of the authorizer offices have been spent on ths. And I still have my painful THING. The system is broken.
Corona del Mar, Calif.
Tax Write-off for Health Care
Concerning health care, I oppose government control of this. With the shekels come the shackles. I favor letting all Americans take a 100% tax write-off for all health care expenses they occur, which are not covered by a health insurance plan they might have.
Lawrence K. Marsh
Erase Private Companies
I feel that until the private insurance companies are out of the picture, we don’t have a chance of any kind of fair health care for all. They’ve effectively destroyed the health care system.
Laguna Woods, Calif.
Diminish Role of Corporations
What we’re talking about as a nation isn’t health care reform, it is health finance reform, and we can’t have any significant reform to the way we finance health care in this country unless we diminish the role of insurance corporations in the delivery of health care. Single-payer is the goal.
Silver Spring, Md.
Reform a Sham
What needs to be included in legislation to resolve the health crisis in the U.S. has been excluded; a single-payer universal health care plan. The current exercise in Congress is a sham and nothing will come of it. To get health care providers to participate in drafting “reform health care legislation,” President Obama and Congressional leaders had to agree not to even consider a single-payer concept.
As a result, the very same health care executives who have made fortunes while ruining our health care system will dictate the “reform” plan. The current charade will not improve our health care system or reduce its cost. Only if and when labor and its allies finally realize that the bosses own both major parties, and they don’t give a damn about working families will we start down the long road to economic justice and health care for all.
Wake up brothers and sisters and cut the cord to sell-out politicians in both major parties, or our children and grandchildren will be stuck in minimum wage jobs and no health care coverage. We need our own party.
Quaker City, Ohio
Single-payer Will Control Costs
In my opinion, a single-payer public option must be included in any meaningful health care reform legislation. A single-payer/public plan is the only way to control costs and provide the competition that the private medical industry needs to bring down its predatory cost structure. This will provide a tremendous saving for American citizens, business, and society at large.
James G. Fordham
Health Care a Moral Right
A single-payer plan, such as in Canada, or a public plan, must be included. Health care should be a moral right, not a “for profit business.”
The evidence that this is true is in that I know people who have been bankrupted by the cost of caring for a loved one with an unexpected medical condition.
Control the Costs!
Debate rages over the virtues of private vs. public health care and vice-versa, but the one issue left uncontrolled by current private and public plans (Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurers) is runaway health services inflation. Bring the rate of (health services) price increase in line with that of the overall consumer price index and the other problems will become much easier to fix. I am listening but am not yet convinced that any of the changes being proposed are going to reign in the inflation.
Extend Medicare to All
I think the most important component of any health care reform effort is to include single-payer as an option. Single-payer is the most efficient way to deliver health care in that it cuts out the obscene profits going to health insurance CEOs. The money saved by taking out the profit motive would probably be enough to pay for the 50 million who are uninsured. Instead of wasting a lot of time with trying to make the lobbyists happy, Congress ought to just pass the bill currently before it that extends Medicare to every American.
Single-payer Way To Go
Single-payer appears the way to go, but a public option is an alternative more acceptable to the lobbyists that run this country.
Government-run Quality Care
There is really just one major reform required – provide an option that doesn’t involve private insurance. To see the reason why, you merely must consider what the insurance industry extracts from the health care dollar (advertising, CEO bonuses, commissions, salaries, contributions to legislators designed to discourage real change, enormous amounts of paperwork, filing, storage of records, efforts to coordinate benefits, and presently efforts to exclude patients, limit coverage, question doctors’ medical decisions about optimum treatment plans, and lawsuits to contest costly adverse – from their perspective – decisions of doctors, patients, and hospitals) compared to what the industry contributes to health care – nothing, zilch!
Those who like the current system should be able to continue in it. Let the insurance bureaucrats decide what procedures are available, restrict coverage, determine the dollars that are paid for all of the activities mentioned above for those who are pleased with the present system. But we must have a government-run option. This is the only way to get a handle on what quality care should cost and make it available to all who want it.
Universal Public Coverage
Health care reform must include: Universal public coverage of inpatient and outpatient care to preserve and restore function and comfort. Included must be:
- prescription drugs
- acupuncture and chiropractic treatment
- eye care
Utilization and prioritization should be determined by doctors on the basis of patients’ needs, not by cost accountants.
Income taxes should be graduated up to the level prevailing in the 1950′s to fund health care.
Limits such as the Medicare limit imposed on hospital days per lifetime for the treatment of mental illness should be removed.
Replace Fragmented System
There already is a health care bill in Congress. It’s Sen. Conyer’s H.R. 676, the U.S. National Health Insurance Act, which has more than 70 co-sponsors. It is universal, affordable health insurance. It allows portability if someone is unemployed or changes jobs. Because everyone is covered, it spreads the risk, so the cost per person is reasonable and no one entity is stuck with the cost of coverage of only the oldest and sickest, as Medicare is now.
By removing the financial burden on employers, it allows them to compete with companies the rest of the industrialized world. Because it is single-payer, not for-profit, it diverts the more than 30 percent now going to enrich private insurance corporations, to doctors, nurses and hospitals who provide actual health care. It replaces our fragmented, dysfunctional system with one that works and will go a long way in boosting our financial health as well.
Health Care for All
Health care for all! Single-payer deserves our support. I have a “government” health care plan. I thought it wasn’t that good until I found out what others cost and what they (don’t) offer. I stopped my complaints–fast.
All the Senators and Congressmen making a big fuss over how lousy a government plan will be also have a government-run health plan. I don’t hear any of them telling us about how they have rejected the government plans and buy their health care on the “open market.”
On the other hand, they say that the private sector will not be able to compete with a government plan. Make up your mind folks–either it is lousy or it will attract so many people making a choice to join the government plan that the privates will not be able to compete.
Health Care as Human Right
The only health care plan that would guarantee health care for all as a human right rather
than as a means of profiteering off others’ misery would be a single-payer health plan like most industrial countries and even some undeveloped ones have. Shame on us for allowing this disastrous state of affairs to flourish!
New York, N.Y.
Three Elements Crucial
Whatever comes from the Congress on reforming health care must contain three elements. First, every single person in the United States is covered. Opting anyone out means the rest of us pay for them. If it’s paid by taxes, individuals, employers or whatever, covering everyone is essential. Covering the poor can be the obligation of society. Second, the billing system for payment needs to be on one form. When a patient walks through the door, the health care provider knows who to bill and how much. Third, all drugs must be provided at a price negotiated for the nation as a whole. Prescriptions must be paid for by the insurance carrier.
If the for-profit insurance companies can compete on this basis-good for them. If not, good-bye. Health care providers need not check with anyone prior to treating a patient except for elective care. The definition of elective care is anything not listed as essential to the health of the patient and strictly regulated. Any insurance company will have 60 days to pay claims in full.
Three Critical Components
Three things are critical:
Group health insurance must be eliminated. This will eliminate the very real incentive to discriminate in hiring based on age, since average group age is a well established factor in establishing group rates. It would allow consumers to “shop” for the best insurance perhaps using money directly paid by employers.
Hospitals receiving any federal funding must accept all government-approved insurances not just cozy deals with favorite insurers. AARP (Aetna) health insurance, and other major alternatives, are not accepted at a local major hospital effectively driving older, cost conscious citizens, to the independent hospitals; good for their death statistics, good for their grants, bad for older Americans who are thereby discriminated against.
The plan must allow patients to have a knowledge of the costs and effectiveness of treatment options and share in the cost savings of choosing the more economic and additional cost of the more expensive but potentially more effective. The “free” (knowledgeable consumer) market will then result in improved average care at lower average cost; no other approach can achieve that goal. As it is, the doctor who operates mainly in fear of attorneys and insurance companies, makes all decisions essentially without regard to cost. Give the doctor and patient a financially safe (known and predictable outcomes based on data) place to practice, knowledge of the facts, a significant financial stake in the decision, and market forces can do the rest. The financial share should be income-based but never go to zero and never consume more than annual income.
David A. Crosbie
That’s Easy! Throw the whole bunch of them out and craft a new one. Actually, John Conyers, HR 676 is a good start. Comprehensive, publicly funded, privately delivered, single-payer health care for all. We need health care, not healthy insurance profits. If our legislators ever get around to doing the math, they will probably be able to balance the budget with the savings. If we quit waging war with the world, we could probably provide health care for everyone on the planet with the savings.
If businesses would do the math, they would save their companies enough money to hire more staff. If state legislators would do the math, they wouldn’t have to lay off teachers.
Those legislators who don’t like single-payer can go out and buy their own health insurance instead of having it paid with our tax dollars. I wonder if greedy would be considered a pre-condition.
Susan K. Baritell
Only One Option
Universal single-payer is the only feasible option.
For-profit health insurance must be stopped. People go bankrupt every day because of medical expenses even when they have insurance. No other industrialized nation in the world has a system as messy as ours.
Don’t Recycle Phony
President Obama’s health care “reform” plan is complete bunk. All he is doing is recycling a bunch of phony window dressing made to look like “reform.” How sad.
What we need is simple: Universal, single-payer health care in the US of A. Anything else is just profit protection for some of the greediest, self interested corporations there are.
Michael J. Germain
Apple Valley, Minn.
A public single-payer system is needed. Enhanced Medicare would eliminate the duplication and waste associated with private, for profit health care insurance. Excessive drug company, hospital and doctors’ profits can be reduced. Folks must maintain the right to select their health care providers. Providers will be paid by insurance premiums from employees and employers, and from asset taxes on the obscene wealth of the very wealthy collected by the U.S. government. Increased taxes on tobacco, alcohol and gambling products will reduce consumption and help offset the costs and harm done to users.
Unions must unite and push for a public, single-payer health care system – an enhanced Medicare system that is as good as or better than what other western industrialized workers and citizens enjoy.
The U.S. needs good health care services at the cheapest price. Usual medical services provided by doctors, hospitals, drugs and other therapies must be included. Keep folks as healthy as possible. Improve workplace health and safety. Too many workers suffer from an unhealthy work environment; union health and safety committees can provide lists of harmful agents and dangerous work sites. Enable citizens to control their lives with end of life directives. Pay providers to keep citizens healthy; to reduce the incidence of injuries, accidents and illness.
Establish worksite and community wellness programs to encourage folks to live well; eat healthy, exercise, avoid unhealthy behaviors, lower stress to enjoy life.
Easy – Single-payer
Health Care Reform – it’s easy: Single-payer, so that we can recoup the more than $300 billion the insurance industry sucks up in administrative costs and profits and apply it to pay for health care for all.
I prefer the French model but would be content to see Canada’s model here.
Price Controls Essential
Price controls for insurance policies: I understand that some versions of the plan call for subsidizing low-income people so that they can buy health insurance. That is well-meaning, but does nothing to stop the rise in costs; it merely transfers them, in some cases, to taxpayers, i.e. the government. The people most responsible for spiraling costs in my opinion, the health-insurance corporations, will not be made to be accountable. That’s billions of dollars to keep rich people rich. It does nothing to enhance our health. I am a cancer survivor, and if I needed to buy a policy on the market today, it would cost more than my husband and I make together. Protection for people in those cases must precede any mandatory purchase plan. We’d be bankrupt and homeless. That isn’t a unique situation. Single-payer is obviously the way to go, but right now there’s too much opposition, well-compensated by the health-insurance industry.
Preventive/health maintenance: Costs less to keep people healthy than to intervene once they are very ill. It’s obvious but not glamorous–or profitable.
Cut loose big pharma: there are several good sources for information on how the drug companies manipulate, cheat, and fabricate ailments, and how they compare new (more expensive) drugs to placebos rather than to older, cheaper, usually less dangerous drugs. At the very least, mandate that people don’t pay top dollar for their drugs.
Don’t let the religious-fanatic wing decide what services are offered:
reproductive-health issues are not negotiable. We are not Saudi Arabia; we do not have ayatollahs. Science, not any religion, should be the basis for health decisions. Let’s hang onto that great old Constitution!
Mary Lou Carter
Competing Government Plan Needed
With respect to health care reform legislation: What must be included in that legislation to resolve the health insurance crisis in the U.S. is a provision for government health care insurance. It may be necessary to tax health insurance benefits to pay for a government health care plan, but we will never get health care coverage for all U.S. citizens unless the government has a competing plan. The insurance industry, the American Medical Association (AMA), a large majority of the medical workers who call themselves doctors, and big pharma have turned health care into a profit system that competes not on the basis of the quality of health care but solely on the basis of the profit motive.
Edward L. Osowski
LaGrange Park, Ill.
Best Care, Lowest Price – Single-payer
Fifteen thousand physicians have agreed that a single-payer, national health care system would provide the best care at the lowest price for all Americans. In California this proposal has been examined and passed the legislature twice, only to be vetoed by our insurance-loving governor. If we have a public insurance option, the insurance companies will reject all the sick people, who will then go for the option. Burdened by a primarily seriously ill group, the cost will rise. Universal health insurance will cover everyone, sick and healthy alike, thus spreading the pain and enabling the agency to bargain with the pharmaceutical companies and other health vendors.
No one should make a profit from the suffering of sick people, or drive the sick into bankruptcy.
Peter G Cohen
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Expand Medicare for All
As a participant in Medicare A and B (but not the prescription drug thing), I want to see Medicare continued and expanded so that all can participate. But procedures need to be changed so that doctors are motivated to make decisions based solely on what is best for the patient and not on economic considerations. For example, malpractice suits must be handled differently, and doctors must be discouraged from ordering marginally useful tests and doing unnecessary surgery.
St. Louis, Mo,