I agree with two points in Laura K. Shifflett's Feb. 5 letter. Healthcare reform is needed, and mandated insurance is not the solution. I vehemently disagree with most of her other assertions.
What does it say about the values of our country when the idea of "personal responsibility" is perverted into a belief that health care is a privilege? How does one earn the "privilege" of healthcare? Every day, my husband, a physician at a community health clinic, treats people without health insurance who work one and two jobs. He provides the best care he can, but many cannot afford the tests and consultations they need. Some of his patients are among the more than 44,000 people a year in our country who die because they cannot get needed medical care. They deserve to suffer and die? Even ignoring the fact that Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 25 identifies adequate medical care as a human right, how can we consider ourselves civilized with such a dog eat dog attitude? All other first world countries consider healthcare a right. An excellent documentary, Sick Around the World, available at the Shepherdstown Public Library and online, contrasts the stark differences between healthcare in our country and other nations, who pay less for care and often have better outcomes.
There are many reasons we pay more than needed for healthcare. Overhead with a system of private health insurance runs 15-30%. (Medicare's overhead is 3-5 percent.) With an improved Medicare for all (HR 676), we would pay a fair tax that would be lower than the cost of premiums, copays, and deductibles for all except the very rich. Our healthcare dollars would go to healthcare, not to health insurance companies, their high CEO and executive salaries and bonuses, advertising, and armies of paper pushers denying claims. There would be no premiums, copays, and deductibles, and doctors wouldn't spend their time on mountains of unnecessary paperwork. There would be no "out of network" so we could see any physician and go to any hospital we chose. Such a system of government financed healthcare - public funds with private providers - is not the same as '"government run healthcare". It is a system that can be held accountable and where we, citizens of a civilized country, insure that people receive medically necessary care and do not go bankrupt or die because they do not have money.
Lynn Moses Yellott
(Eastern Panhandle Single-Payer Action Network, a chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program)