LETTER TO THE EDITOR (L.A. Times 05/24/04)
Broken Health Insurance System
Re “No Insurance Doesn’t Mean No Healthcare,” Commentary, May 21: Conrad Meier’s misguided analysis of healthcare in this country is almost a joke. When he states that more people paying cash for services is a trend, it is not because they want to, it is because they can’t afford insurance. Even if you have insurance you do not necessarily get good healthcare. A friend can’t get her gynecologist to even return a call, much less make an appointment to see her. My wife, with an $8,000 insurance premium, waits over two weeks for approval of a radiological study to rule out a tumor. I was, unfortunately, in an auto accident. Hospitalized for 1 1/2 days, without any surgery, I was billed over $23,000 dollars, not including doctors’ fees and ambulance costs!
Who would elect to pay cash for this? Insurance companies make profits that do not contribute to services. Advertising takes dollars away from services. Jobs that do not provide insurance deprive millions of services. The system is broken. Just saying there are only 25 million people without health insurance instead of 44 million is not enough to make it better. We need universal healthcare — nothing less.
Leonard A. Zivitz MD
I agree with a good bit of Robert L. Borosage’s advice to John Kerry on how to fill in the blanks. But, I take issue with his anaemic recommendations on how to handle the health care crisis. What he recommends is not much more inspiring than the poor excuse for a solution the senator is currently failing to arouse the electorate with. The time has come when the entire progressive movement must speak with one loud, clear voice. As I see it, the Nation is not, up until now, assuming the role on this issue that it should have taken on some time ago. It is the opinion of Floridians for Health Care, a fighting grassroots group in Palm Beach County, Florida that single payer, medicare extended to everyone, is the only solution to the rapidly intensifying problem. That is also the opinion of the 10,000 member physicians for a national health program. It can be summed up in the words of one of their leaders, the distinguished former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell. She said: “We can no longer afford not to have single payer universal health care.” I urge Nation writers to take that stand forthrightly. Let’s start building the mass movement the situation is screaming for.
David Prensky, D.D.S.
The News Hour
Dear Ms. Warner:
Thank you for trying to elicit from your guests tonight some comment about the political ramifications of the unacceptable new numbers of uninsured people. Timidly, neither offered any solution, or even seemed to understand some of your questions. Neither questioned the efficacy of the model of employment-based insurance plus an inadequate safety net that has brought us to this juncture. Neither questioned the legitimacy of the dominant for-profit model or the bureaucratic waste that leave our neighbors to their own devices when cancers appear on their skin.
As this issue develops, I hope you will seek out knowledgeable, forthright advocates for meaningful systemic reform, like Dr. Steffie Woolhandler or
Dr. Quentin Young of Physicians for a National Health Plan. An articulate and well-informed advocate and analyst from the perspective of those most excluded from the health care system, homeless people, is Jeff Singer, MSW, President and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless, Inc., in Baltimore and Chair of my organization’s Policy Committee. Any of these three visionary leaders will make a strong case for single payer health care (a word which you spoke and which neither of your guests tonight dared even comment on).
John N. Lozier, MSSW
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
PO Box 60427
Nashville TN 37206-0427