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September 25, 2013 at 7:05 AM
First, let me say that I believe that The Times did a wonderful job of explaining the Affordable Care Act. [“Insuring health: Navigating your way through the Affordable Care Act,” Section J, Sept. 22.]
With today’s political parties playing fast and loose with the facts, your insert was absolutely necessary.
To the Army veteran, now student, who is skeptical of Obamacare, I would say: OK, this is your choice to make. I defend your right to do so.
But I would call a screeching halt when he states that he will deal with the consequences if he gets in an accident or something.
Once he is 27, and possibly earning little or no money (especially if he is still in school), who is going to pay his bill when he shows up at the emergency room?
One of the key benefits of the Affordable Care Act is that people without insurance now, can get insurance. Thus, the rest of us should not have to pay for uninsured people going to the emergency room.
Alan Zelt, Kenmore
August 18, 2013 at 6:47 AM
Include managed-care plans
Dr. Ricardo Jimenez, medical director of Sea Mar Community Health Centers, highlights a significant deficiency in the state’s new Health Benefit Exchange. [“Guest column: Falling short of Obamacare’s goals,” Opinion, Aug. 15.]
The exclusion of Medicaid managed-care plans will hurt people currently receiving health care under these plans.
If these plans do not meet the criteria for inclusion in the exchange, I suggest that state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and his advisers reconsider their criteria, and take into account the consequences of offering only commercial plans on those who can least afford health care.
Is this not in conflict with the goals of the Affordable Care Act, namely, to make affordable, quality health care accessible to all?
Diana Bader, independent board member of the Community Health Plan of Washington, Lynnwood
August 7, 2013 at 7:02 PM
Members of Congress are selfish
Congress members, our national group of elected men and women, are still thinking of themselves as “the elite.” [“Fix to keep government paying Congress’ health premiums,” News, Aug. 3.]
They want to continue being subsidized at 75 percent of their health-care premiums and their staffs’ health-care premiums, by us taxpayers, even under the Affordable Care Act.
These folks are the same ones who cut subsidies to the poor for food, housing and education because of the expense. If Congress would pay its own premiums in full instead of whining about paying 25 percent, there would be more tax money to apply to services for the poor.
Ask yourself this question: Which is more important, health premiums for the wealthy, or vital services for the poor?
Elizabeth Williams, Seahurst
July 30, 2013 at 4:23 PM
New law is self-defeating
Your article points out that signing up healthy, young adults is “crucial to the success” of the new federal health-care law. [“Blazing the trail for health-care enrollment,” page one, July 28.]
The law is self-defeating, since the center of the law requires that insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions be covered.
Why should the young sign up at all? There is no incentive for them to do so. Rather than pay for insurance, they can pay a minimal penalty, and if they do get sick, they can then buy any insurance needed.
Wayne Jensen, Kirkland
July 20, 2013 at 8:07 AM
Medicare for all
Froma Harrop is so right about a “Medicare for all” health plan. [“Column: Curse of the full-time job,” Opinion, July 16.]
Employers would be free to allow job-sharing, employees could choose part-time work, and a huge cause of labor strife would disappear.
Anne Thureson, Seattle
July 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM
CEOs should not benefit from doctors’ work
As retired physician, I was shocked at the salaries paid to hospital CEOs, which were discussed in the recent article in The Seattle Times. [“Hospitals reward CEOs for profits over care,” page one, June 30.]
In general, these excessive salaries and bonuses appear to be tied primarily to profit margins, increased numbers of procedures and hospital admissions. I don’t know of any hospital CEO that plays a direct role in the numbers of procedures, surgeries or admissions.
There was vague mention of using “quality” as a criteria for their reimbursement. How this was factored in was not explained. There was no mention of tying their bonuses or salary to patient outcomes, reduction of medical and medication errors, readmission rates within 30 days of discharge or other accepted outcomes criteria.
There is a lot of bloat in the current hospital system, and reducing expenses through smarter purchasing and better contracting can help the bottom line. That seems to be the only area where a hospital administrator can have a direct impact on profit. Why should a hospital CEO benefit from busy surgeons’ schedules?
I think the hospital boards that pay these CEOs excessively at a time when so many citizens have no insurance are not justified, nor is it in the best interest of the public, who are their “customers.”
Jim Brown, Wenatchee
June 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Much of the disparity has to do with insurance coverage
The Times article on differing hospital charges for similar procedures omitted a significant reason for the disparity in pricing. [“Hospital prices vary wildly for common treatments,” NW Sunday, June 23.]
The posted charge for a procedure is the retail price. This means while insurance carriers with negotiated hospital reimbursement contracts pay a significantly reduced rate, a patient who does not have insurance can be billed the entire posted retail rate.
This two-tiered billing practice contributes significantly to the fact that most personal bankruptcies in this country are the result of astronomical medical bills. This morally questionable practice would not exist had the United States joined the rest of the developed world by providing its citizens with universal health-care coverage.
Thus, the uninsured among us should carefully shop and compare pricing for hospital services, much as they might do for car repair or a plumbing problem. This, of course, is not possible in emergency situations, so it puts the uninsured at the mercy of what may be merciless hospital billing practices.
Skylar Tennent, Tacoma
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