American health care situation is disgusting

To the editor:

There are 45 million people in the United States who don’t have health insurance because the insurance companies must make a profit.

To me it is a moral issue that people are dying and living with painful illnesses every day because they have no health care.

Recently, I attended a candlelight vigil at UMC for all of those who have died because they had no health care available to them.

This is shameful in any country, but it is disgusting to live in the wealthiest country in the world and to have profit be the determining factor for caring for our sick and dying.



Affordable insurance


To the editor:

In his Aug. 28 opinion piece, John Stossel attempts to prove that competition and the profit motive are the keys to health care reform.

But his conclusion that maximizing profit always provides the best results for consumers is overly simplistic and naïve.

A competitive market is not an end in itself. It is a means for the consumer to get what he needs/wants at a fair price. If this doesn’t happen, the system has failed even though profits were maximized.

For example, take a tomato company that finds its employees can pick more tomatoes in a day if they aren’t allowed to wash their hands after using the toilet. With picking costs reduced, these tomatoes can be offered at a lower price — undercutting the competition, and maximizing profits.

Or take an example from the health care business. Imagine if a colonoscopy clinic decided to cut costs by reusing syringes and not washing the "apparatus" between uses. (That could never happen, could it?)

In both cases, profits were maximized, but consumers didn’t get what they wanted — unless they wanted e. coli poisoning or hepatitis C.

The purpose of health insurance is to reduce financial risk to the individual by spreading the costs over a larger pool of people should a health problem befall the individual. An unfortunate reality of the health insurance business is that a great way to cut costs is to insure only healthy people. By doing this, profits are maximized for the companies, but what consumers really need from health insurance is sacrificed.

A public health insurance option, freed from the constraint of maximizing profits, could still cut costs by automating record keeping or eliminating the $5 aspirin while providing what Americans need in health care: affordable insurance that can’t be taken away by sickness or the loss of a job.

Bart Atwell


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