Tuesday, July 7, 2009
That the health-care industry is spending obscene amounts of money on lobbying against the public interest ["Familiar Players in Health Bill Lobbying," front page, July 6] demonstrates the need for at least a strong public option, if not a single-payer system, in a national health-care bill. These companies and their executives are getting rich at the expense of ordinary Americans.
There are a number of lessons to be learned in the American health-care crisis, but surely one of them is not to be dependent upon organizations in business for private profit (this includes those legally organized as not-for-profit but designed to allow their organizers to get rich). Health care does not lend itself to the kind of private competition that can benefit consumers. I hope members of Congress will refuse to be swayed by these high-powered lobbyists and all the campaign money they can generate and instead legislate in the interest of their constituents. These companies are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The June 24 news story "Most Want Health Reform But Fear Its Side Effects" highlighted people's concern over rising health-care costs. But an even greater concern involves who decides the type of care we will receive. I don't believe government bureaucrats should be determining how my health care is to be rationed, as happens today in Canada and Britain. But let's not forget that health insurers also take away our doctors' authority to determine the care we receive.
In a 2008 survey by the Medical Society of New York, 90 percent of physicians said they had to change a patient's treatment based on restrictions from insurers. If a survey were taken in our area, the results would probably be similar. A recent Post-ABC News poll found that 79 percent of respondents were concerned that health reform would limit their choices of doctors or treatments.
As health-care reform is debated, the real issue should be crafting a health insurer's code of conduct without government interference and with doctors' cooperation. This code would put decision-making for patients back in the appropriate hands -- of our doctors. Thus, doctors and patients would determine the best course of treatment or medication and wouldn't be forced by insurance companies to accept a lesser alternative.
Chairman and President
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
Before we reinvent the wheel with health care ["Obama, Party Tout Lower Figure for Health Reform," news story, July 3], let's look back a generation. When I was growing up, nearly everyone had Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Blue Cross covered doctor's visits and Blue Shield covered hospitalization. I don't recall anyone not receiving treatment or complaining about the high cost of premiums or denial of care.
Then in 1973 along came health management organizations. HMOs were a well-intentioned experiment but quickly turned into the cash cows that we now recognize them as being.
Our health-care system became the best in the world because there was no profit motive. Blue Cross/Blue Shield was a not-for-profit business, and, yes, doctors made house calls.
Today we have no health-care system. What we have is a patchwork of profit-making businesses leaching off society for the benefit of a handful. If the marketplace won't return us to a successful model, then let government deliver one. Only when the profit motive is taken out of health care will we again be able to boast of the best health care in the world. If private companies won't change, it's time to give them the proper incentive. I, for one, have no faith in the current system, and I suspect the majority of Americans feel the same way.
The handful of those screaming about socialized medicine must have never used their health insurance, or they might feel differently.