Re "Consider This Cure for What's Ailing Us," Commentary, July 8: John Balzar understands the irrational and dysfunctional aspects of our market-driven health care system, but his statement that "private sector profits have no place in a business so important as life and death" is itself irrational. The government cannot, will not and should not re-create the health care system in its own image.
In recent years, Americans have twice been offered genuine reforms to bring accountability for cost and quality to health care. In 1994, Clinton's Health Security Act was defeated by irrelevant rhetoric. In 1997, Republican measures included in the Balanced Budget Act were ignored by doctors and hospitals unwilling to take the risk to establish community-based accountable health plans. How can we ever hope for real reform if distinguished opinion makers like Balzar don't have a clue as to what needs to be done?
Sid Siegel MD
\f7 Balzar rehashes old arguments regarding the increasing expenses of health care and the cost control of HMO bean counters but offers little insight into these trends other than to say that insurance companies are bad. Health care costs are increasing because of the multitude of health care advances. Americans are receiving better care every year, and better care costs more money. Our costs are so high because our nation does very little rationing of health care. If you think HMO rationing is bad, take a look at rationing in Canada or Britain. If we reduced expensive equipment and specialists to Canadian levels, we could insure more people and cut health care costs, but the health care of the majority of Americans who have it would be diminished considerably.
Americans should be thankful for the superior care we get from insurance companies.
\o7 Sherman Oaks
\f7 We don't need a fully socialized medical system. All we need to do is to extend our national health insurance plan, Medicare, to the rest of the population and not just to those 65 and older. The present premiums paid to private insurance would be more than enough to pay for this because Medicare is a more cost-effective insurance plan than private plans. Medicare doesn't have to pay salespeople commissions or spend money on advertising as private insurers do. And Medicare accepts everyone, regardless of their state of health.
Robert C. Mason
\o7 Simi Valley
\f7 When something like 200 million taxpayers fund the health care for perhaps 10 million or 20 million recipients, the level of care can be made quite nice. But when health care for 200 million is paid for through the government by 200 million taxpayers, something has to give: the level of care, the availability of care, the quality of care. The same variable effects that we now see, but applied to everyone.
\o7 Huntington Beach