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Mixed reception to Medicare plan

September 24, 2009

Re "Medicare for all," Opinion, Sept. 22

This treatise in favor of expanding our Medicare system to make it available to all is the most compelling, the most comprehensive and the most logical presentation I have seen on the subject.

Want actual proof? My wife and I have been classic Medicare utilizers for 17 years, during which we experienced several serious hospitalizations and treatments.

Without a doubt, the benefits, the efficiency, the provider acceptability, the freedom of choice and the effectiveness of the system that we have enjoyed and that has enabled us to continue a long, healthful and independent lifestyle should be available to all, of all ages.

The system is already in place, it works, and it functions well.

Albert A. Glick

West Covina

What a concept. Do it the easy way, the proven way, the way I've been doing it for seven years now with excellent care by my doctor of choice.

Some will say: Medicare costs are going through the roof. Yes, but I say: That's because old people get a lot sicker than X or Y generations.

Theodore Roszak would have you youngsters pay a premium for extended Medicare, but he points out it would be much less than whatever you pay, or can't afford to pay, to a private insurer now.

The great majority of your ilk (including my 43-year-old son) don't get all that sick, so you can go ahead and buy that flat-screen TV, an iPhone and other such generational necessities.

Stay healthy and buy into Medicare, then maybe the cost of growing old will flatten out when you get here.

Ken Gale

Santa Monica

::

Roszak's article displays a total lack of understanding of the issues. Medicare is popular because it simply pays the bills, no questions asked.

Does he understand that Medicare is almost devoid of preventive care, electronic medical records or the application of comparative effectiveness research? Does he understand that it has been among the fastest-growing parts of the budget for years?

Medicare's administrative costs are very low because no one is minding the store. The taxpayers are buying the elderly a form of health insurance (fee for service) that they cannot buy for their own families. Taxpayers have HMO or PPO coverage that transfers the financial burden of treatment decisions to the physicians, who have to balance the needs of the individual patient against the future needs of their covered population. Under Medicare for all, balancing costs versus benefits is left to bureaucrats in Washington.

Jeff McCombs

La Palma

::

Although I agree with Roszak that expanding the Medicare program would be the easiest way to introduce a public option, he gives the impression that seniors are covered without paying a premium. I pay $192.70 a month for Medicare, deducted from my Social Security benefits. The premium was "means tested" several years ago and now is based on the previous year's income tax return. There really is no such thing as a free lunch.

Joan P. Leb

Long Beach

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Does anyone in his right mind think that the answer to healthcare reform is adding millions more citizens to a Medicare program that is currently in the hole and rife with fraud and abuse?

Medicare is the poster child of a government-run option, and its current state isn't a ringing endorsement for expanding this failed system.

Insurance reforms that focus on covering preexisting conditions and that implement tax incentives to make individuals accountable for the quality of their own healthcare, and the choices of the type of insurance they buy, will go much further to fixing our problems than the "bulletproof" solution that the author prescribes.

Clyde Harkins

Irvine

::

A profile-in-courage award should go to Roszak for his Op-Ed article on his battle with health problems and a sensible solution to healthcare.

After years of paying our health insurance premiums, we are now confronting a very serious health problem. We have been told that our drug plan will not cover one of the drugs needed, estimated to cost us $12,000.

Why are we rewarding the very companies that inflict this pain and suffering on people? When our country does not recognize the humanity of healthcare, what does that say about us?

Lucia Dzwonczyk

San Pedro

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Yes, it would wonderful if Medicare could be extended to all Americans as Roszak proposes, but left unexamined is how to pay for it.

Already Medicare will begin to be underfunded when the first wave of baby boomers becomes eligible for coverage, starting about two years hence. Also, within the next decade, a serious shortage of primary-care physicians is predicted -- precisely the doctors most needed to see, diagnose and prescribe medical care for the added influx of patients under "Medicare for all."

Edward Gonzalez

Malibu

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