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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 19, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health care: Do working examples already exist?

My government health care is easy, and it’s already in U.S.

I have been on a government-run health-care plan for 11 years. Not once have I ever been denied treatment. Not once have I ever been denied referral surgery recommended by my attending doctor.

When moving to another state, the only problem I experienced was finding a doctor that would see me within a month, only due to his scheduling problems.

I once recommend a drug to my doctor, one I had been on for high cholesterol for years. He said it was too expensive and switched me to a less-costly drug — now my blood pressure is stabilized by a drug he recommended over one that a previous doctor recommended that cost me $300 a month. Now I pay $4 for a 60-day supply.

The plan I am on is run by the government, and it’s called Medicare.

I do pay for it each month; the cost is now $97, up from $50 when I first started 11 years ago, and it has paid 100 percent of everything my doctor has requested over those years. I do carry coverage through AARP at $31 a month, simply because Medicare is only intended to cover 80 percent on part B — physical exams, general visits and blood tests.

Bottom line: A government-run health-care plan is very efficient without many complications.

— Michael R. Dean, Puyallup

Medical reform needs to include malpractice reform

The current proposed health-care legislation before Congress doesn’t address one significant feature of medical costs. That feature is the enormous costs faced by doctors for medical-malpractice protection, averaging more than $100,000 per doctor every year. The lack of provision for this cost — whether government or private health care — is a significant loss to the consumer because it is passed on to the consumer by the doctor.

The lack of addressing this cost is not surprising since President Obama and many legislators are lawyers. To level the playing field of cost, there should be a cap on recoverable damages, if they’re proven.

Otherwise, look for your co-pays to continue to increase to cover this nonmedical cost.

— Bob Karns, Bellevue

Follow the steps of nonprofit insurers

The time has come to fix this nation’s health-care system, and the path has already been blazed by nonprofit insurers like Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

This program would not be a money sink as many critics claim. It would instead reverse the trend of American health care toward high costs and low quality, in which the middle class pays large sums for support that never materializes when it is finally needed.

Americans pay more for their health care than the citizens of any other industrialized nation. This expense might be justified if Americans received a higher quality of care, but the World Health Organization ranks America 37th in quality of care received. Without an overhaul of the health-care industry, our costs will continue to skyrocket, and we will continue to be underserved.

A public plan would be a powerful alternative to the inefficient and expensive machine we currently count on to keep us healthy. Even Americans with insurance can quickly fall through the cracks of hefty co-pays and loophole-riddled insurance contracts. The self-sustaining, nonprofit organization of a public plan would encourage private insurers to provide the best possible coverage or lose their customers.

— Jacob Boen Helmholz-DeLay, Seattle

Insurance companies fighting hard to keep ruined system

If anyone still has any doubts that the insurance companies are fighting tooth and nail to kill health-care reform, they need look no further than the interview given to Bill Moyers July 10 by a former vice president of Cigna Insurance. The fear these insurance companies have of a government-run program is palpable.

And now we have the proof that there was a concerted strategy to defeat the Clinton administration’s plan and any subsequent ones that would cut into insurance-company profits. They couldn’t even let a documentary about health care around the world — “Sicko” by Michael Moore — be seen by the American people without mounting a full-frontal attack using scare tactics about “socialized medicine” — as if what we have is adequate, affordable and fair!

A government-run system seems to work in every other industrialized nation, but they pay for it with a progressive tax system. The rate for Americans in the upper tax bracket is at its lowest in history. We can have affordable, quality health care for all if the richest among us are willing to give up a sliver of their income. Is that really too much to ask?

— Jessica Lisovsky, Vashon

Comments | More in Health care, Politics, Reform

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