Copley News Service
Dear Mr. Berko: When you spoke at the fundraiser for our church about the future of our country, you pointedly said that we must have a single-payer health care system. You noted that there are 41 million uninsured in the country who can’t afford health care. You said they must have medical access but (and the following are your words) “the health insurance industry’s intentional high costs exclude them from participation.”
Are you nuts or something? How can you preach such socialistic ideas in a capitalistic society? They would be able to afford health care if they were worth more to their employers so they would be paid better. Do you know how much our leftist government has screwed up our country? And it would do the same without a private health care system if we allowed it to happen.
You have no idea of the wonderful things that health insurance companies like Aetna have done to help Americans. Their contributions to health care are unequaled in any other country in the world. You shouldn’t preach left-wing, pinko communist ideas to people who invite you to their homes. Shame on you.
Dear C.S.: Why do I suspect that my friend Charming Charlie, the insurance agent from Kokomo asked you to write? And why do I believe that you may be employed by one of the Big Eight (Aetna, Cigna, Coventry, Health Net, Humana, WellPoint, the Blues or United) health companies?
I’m not going to touch your comment about the federal government except to say that the voters are as much to blame as those they elect. My dad, who voted in 19 presidential elections, said, “We get what we pay for.” And your comments about the health care industry’s “wonderful things” are true because no other country in the world allows private industry to make tens of billions of dollars a year from the suffering of its citizens.
I’d like to know why you don’t “gritch” about a $30,444 hospital bill plus $3,882 in medical supplies for an appendectomy patient who had a five-day stay. And how fair is a $7,809 emergency room charge to X-ray and cast a fractured fibula? But I’d really like to know why Aetna and Blue Cross paid those outlandish charges without a peep (but nickel and dime every doctor) using our premium dollars.
There’s the problem: It’s not the doctors nor the government but rather the insurers themselves. Their pockets are so heavily lined with our premium dollars that paying a huge hospital bill is no more meaningful to them than would be the advent of another fly to a slaughterhouse.
Now would you please tell Charming Charlie that last year the Big Eight reported net profits of $19 billion plus free cash flow of $22 billion? Holy moly! That’s $41 billion – easily enough to pay the health care costs for all of those 41 million uninsured. And I think you ought to tell Charming Charlie that the top five officers at each of the Big Eight health insurance companies received $237 million in compensation last year. That’s a shameful use of our premium dollars. Those Big Eight health insurers employ more than 300,000 people, each of whom is paid a salary with benefits averaging $40,000. Well, that number computes to $12 billion and not a penny of that is used for health care. Certainly a shameful use of our premium dollars.
And then there are billions of dollars spent each year for desks, computers, rent, utilities, thousands of tons of paper and millions of paper clips. Those billions are not spent on health care but they are paid with your premium dollars. Can you imagine how many hundreds of thousands of telephones are owned by Aetna, Cigna, United, Health Net, Coventry, WellPoint, Humana and the Blues? Then count the myriad thousands of copy machines, computers, cubicles, pencils, legal pads and so on, all of which are shamefully paid with premium dollars that could be used for medical costs.
Finally, one must count the commissions paid to people like you who sell health insurance policies. It’s estimated that last year the Big Eight paid close to $12 billion in commissions, shamefully using premium dollars that could be used to pay doctors, hospitals, drug companies and other health care providers.
And that’s just the Big Eight. There are countless smaller companies selling health care policies, shamefully skimming billions from your premium dollars. Tell this to Charming Charlie.
So, like it or not, those tens of billions of wasted premium dollars persuasively argue for a single-payer government-controlled health care system. It’s obvious from those wasted billions that health care premiums would be less by half with a single-payer system.
Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 1416, Boca Raton, FL 33429 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Copyright 2007 Copley News Service
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