December 20, 2000
Some health-insurance woes can be avoided.
The health insurance industry told the public and employers that they could provide medical care for less money, and many purchasers of medical-care insurance bought into that (”HMO: What happens after the Band-Aids run out?” Cover Story, News, Dec. 8).
What the insurance companies didn’t tell people about were the long waits for appointments, crowded waiting rooms, shortened hospital stays, delayed or limited specialist services and even actual denial of services and procedures.
Now that the insurers have squeezed the hospitals and doctors as much as they can, they are raising premiums. Medical costs are rising as medical technology improves and as the population ages and needs more medical care; but the insurance industry has cost burdens that can be avoided. Medicare operates at an administrative overhead of less than 3%. The time has come to get rid of the health-insurance industry, its multiple, redundant administrations, costly marketing, obscene executive salaries and the need for corporate profits.
By eliminating these expenses, this country could afford Medicare for all through a proven single-payer system. There would be a single set of rules to abide by. Everyone would have medical coverage, and patients would be able to choose any doctor or hospital they wanted to use.
Melvin H. Kirschner, M.D.
Van Nuys, Calif.