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Other Solutions

July 24, 1988

I found James Flanigan's May 29 column on health care quite interesting ("Time to Stop Buck Passing on Health Care"). There is no question that the problems cited need good solutions. However, I would like to comment specifically on Flanigan's statement regarding solutions used by other nations that finance health care for all people through taxes.

I have worked personally with the health-care systems of the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and a number of other foreign countries. All those countries have serious problems providing health care for their citizens.

In the United Kingdom and Sweden, one cannot obtain kidney dialysis from the National Health system after age 55. A white paper published in the London Times indicated that 50% of the people in the queue for hip replacement surgery die before their turn comes up (The waiting time is a number of years). My French friends say that if one needs hospital care, the best choice is to leave the country.

As a result, our company has become the leading provider of private sector acute hospital care in Great Britain and in Switzerland. All our patients pay for their own care out of their pockets or are covered by private insurance. Our greatest growth of revenues and profits is presently taking place in countries that have long-established national health insurance programs. Perhaps Audrey Freedman's idea of a national health trust to provide everybody with health coverage is a viable alternative.

ROYCE DIENER

Beverly Hills

The writer is chairman of the executive committee of American Medical International .

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