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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Cut Employer-Employee Health Insurance Knot

October 18, 2003

Re "A Health Bargain on the Job," Commentary, Oct. 14: Sherry Glied offers only two options for Americans wanting to obtain health insurance: through employers or "the same way they buy auto insurance." This misses an important option, whose time may now have come. Single-payer, universal health care would do more to help American businesses and, in turn, American workers than tax breaks to the wealthy, protectionist tariffs or anything else the current administration is implementing and would provide coverage for the 42 million of us who are uninsured.

Nadine Semer MD

Venice

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Regarding health-insurance costs and the MTA and supermarket strikes, where are the questions on what insurance companies' profits have been during the recent spike in health-care costs? The idea of health care being profit-driven to supposedly spark competition and keep prices down is absurd if consumers don't have a choice.

Untie health care from employment and end the layer of profit that sucks up too much in resources for what the companies provide. Allocate several levels of plans at specific group prices for all citizens, from cradle to grave, subsidized by a combination of employer taxes (less than what they're paying now, most likely) and government subsidies (Medicare and all the other programs would be gone) and end the whole game.

Zelda McKay

Idyllwild

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Both sides in both strikes, at the grocery stores and MTA, are being selfish. Paying some part of health insurance is a fact of life these days. The parties involved need to meet somewhere in the middle and resolve this.

These parties need to consider the economic impact of these strikes: the grocery store suppliers, the produce and dairy products going bad, the workers and students who now can't get to destinations, the increase in pollution and traffic as riders are forced to drive. There is a much larger picture that needs to be considered by these strikers and their employers.

Jan Rasmussen

Lakewood

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Steve Lopez (Oct. 15) is right when he suggests the $87 billion being spent in Iraq could go a long way in helping the budget problems in this country. I wish he had included a reminder to all those blue-collar workers who are being, or may be, stripped of health-care benefits that a very high percentage of them fail to vote at election time. There is no truer fact; you sometimes get what you vote for, and just as true, you get what you deserve when you fail to vote.

Bob Lunsford

Northridge

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