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Insurance and health

January 21, 2007

Re "The governor's plan uncovers the middle class," Opinion, Jan. 17

E. Richard Brown omits one common situation: middle-class families that may qualify for employer-provided medical insurance but opt out of it. They do that for several reasons. First, the labor market is so unstable that salaried jobs are hardly more secure than hourly contract jobs. Second, should you get laid off from a salaried job, your next job may be as an hourly contractor, putting you beyond the term of COBRA. Third, as you age, qualifying for private insurance becomes more difficult. Put those factors together and you have to conclude that if you have private insurance, you should hold onto it and reject employer-based insurance even when it's available.

How would such people fit into the governor's scheme, even as modified by Brown? Would they be put totally outside the system, and therefore have to pay whatever the insurers demand?

DAVID DATZ

Altadena

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Re "Unlikely allies push expanded healthcare," Jan. 16

The national debate on healthcare is symbolic of deeper questions than insurance coverage, cost containment and doctors' fees. It's about whether we see health related only to the body or to our whole being -- body, mind and soul. Are Americans taking responsibility for their health, preventing disease through conscious living and proper diet and exercise, or has abuse of the physical body and the quick fix by the medical establishment become the norm?

The healthcare debate is really about what creates a healthy life. It leads us to ask if we can be truly healthy and free of disease if we are living a life of stress, indifference and selfishness. It also raises the issue of whether we can be healthy individuals in a polluted, crime-ridden and fearful society.

RON LOWE

Santa Monica

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