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The operative word: 'nonprofit'

October 20, 2009

Re "Switzerland's health lessons," Opinion, Oct. 18

Doyle McManus made the most salient point of all: Switzerland's insurance companies are not for profit.

Until the U.S. Congress mandates that all health insurance companies become not-for-profit, we as a people will continue to suffer from an industry that cares only about the almighty dollar.

But with the Republican Party owned lock, stock and barrel by insurance corporations, and significant elements of the Democratic Party beholden to the Cignas and Aetnas of the world, congressional action is unlikely.

Robert Teigan

Santa Susana


As McManus -- easily the most intellectually honest thinker/writer at The Times -- points out, cost-containment for medical care is always going to be an issue when "like Obama ... you've promised voters that they'll ... get all the care they want."

Be aware that this is not an original thought, and that the wise and wicked industrial-policy types have it all mapped out as to what needs to be done to bring medical spending under control.

Doesn't it make sense now that President Obama accuses doctors of doing procedures for the extra fees and pharmaceutical firms of profiteering on their products?

Is it not obvious that the only way to rein in costs in the context of the public's absolute right to medical care is to limit what's available for it to demand from its society?

Thus, medical progress is the enemy of progressives everywhere.

Zack Kircher

Los Angeles


McManus describes Switzerland's health insurance plan as "roughly similar" to the one proposed by Obama and the Democrats in Washington. Oh that it were.

The differences, in fact, are enormous: "By law, the basic insurance plans are nonprofit" in Switzerland, McManus reports. Try that in Washington and you're "off the table," even though that's the only way to put fiduciary interests on the side of patients.

The other reason is that "the government prescribes what the policies will cover, sets the price and tells doctors what they can charge." That notion will generate screams of "socialized medicine!" in the halls of Congress, even though it's the only way to control costs.

Only some single-payer proposals offer these features while covering everyone and still saving money -- something the Swiss haven't managed to do.

Now, how about an opinion article on how well single-payer plans work in Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Taiwan?

Don Schroeder

North Hollywood


The Swiss healthcare system as described by McManus makes a lot more sense for our country. It has all of the features we are looking for: universality, affordability, high quality and, above all else, freedom of choice for consumers and a privately run system with little government intrusion.

Switzerland, not Canada or Britain, should therefore be our role model for reforming our health insurance delivery system along the lines of our cherished values of the free-enterprise, capitalistic economic system.

Geoffrey C. Church

Los Angeles

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