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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 16, 2009 at 6:12 AM

Health-care reform: the view from overseas

From enthusiasm to disillusionment

Before moving 15 years ago to the U.S.A., I lived for many years in both Britain and New Zealand. Initially, I was enthusiastic about American health care but have become disillusioned.

At times we have had no health insurance — a horrible experience for any family with children. Even with health insurance, there is a never-ending stream of incomprehensible paperwork that, surprisingly, never existed in the “bureaucratic” systems of Britain and New Zealand.

And there is always the suspicion that U.S. doctors are suggesting procedures not because you need them but from fear of lawsuits and from their own attempts to improve their bottom line.

I mustn’t forget all those constant, unnecessary TV drug ads we all end up paying for. And, of course, there is rationing galore in the present system.

The stark reality is that American capitalism, just as it ruined the finance and auto industries, is doing the same to health care. I am not optimistic that “reform” will achieve anything, given the inbuilt anti-democratic mechanisms of the U.S. Constitution — the unelected Supreme Court allowing lobbyists to “buy” legislators, and the Senate, which must rank as one of the world’s least-democratic legislatures.

— Merv Montacute, Fall City

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