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Let health insurers apply risk adjustments

To the editor:

The Dec. 8 Review-Journal included a letter to the editor from Charles Edgley supporting Vin Suprynowicz’s column lambasting the “ObamaCare” provision mandating medical coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Mr. Edgley’s thought-provoking missive is well worth reading, but the shortened premise of his thought is that health is not an insurable commodity like a car or a house. There is certainty that the health of almost all the insured will fail as they age, while most cars will not be involved in a serious accident, nor will most homes be destroyed by fire or other catastrophe.

He further points out that high-risk drivers are saddled with higher premiums or experience the cancellation of their insurance policies. The same is true of home insurance. Insurers who have excessive fire or other user-caused claims experience higher premiums or have policies canceled.

Here is my point: Why aren’t the providers of health insurance allowed the same latitude as insurers of cars and homes? Instead of placing all of the health insurance customers in the same pool and charging the same premium, allow the providers to charge higher premiums for the insured who are indulging in risky health behavior while offering lower rates for those insured whose behaviors are risk-averse.

My addition to Mr. Edgley’s insightful letter is to allow health insurance companies to apply risk adjustments to their pool of insured similar to those they apply to other pools of customers. If the insured indulge in risky behavior, of course they should experience a higher premium. My crystal ball tells me that the long-term result of implementing such a change in the matrix of the health insurance scheme would be lower cumulative health care costs for the nation.

Ron Ecklund


Insurance mandate

To the editor:

Before anyone rejoices over a federal judge’s decision that a provision of the health care law is unconstitutional, they should realize that this could cause insurance rates to soar (“Health law faces legal setback,” Tuesday). You see, in order to provide all Americans with health insurance, everybody must be included. If young healthy citizens are allowed to refuse coverage, then the cost of insurance for older Americans, and parents raising children, would be astronomical.

Despite claims from conservatives that they will repeal this bill, they would have to override President Obama’s veto. And even if a Republican president is elected in 2012, they wouldn’t have enough votes to repeal it.

For better or worse, we’re stuck with this health care law, so every American having health insurance is a necessity.

Richard J. Mundy

Las Vegas

Starving kids

To the editor:

I was sickened by Marcia Romano’s Saturday letter speaking out against a weekend food program for our nation’s poorest children. What has happened to my country? How did we reach this most partisan of points in our history when feeding starving children is an idea anyone would argue against?

Could these children’s parents be receiving food stamps? Perhaps. But in the most Tea Party, freedom-loving way of thinking, the government can’t force the parents to use them or to buy healthy food. (Food stamps, by the way, are on the chopping block for many newly elected tea partiers from across the country, so consider the assistance an endangered species).

What strikes me most is Ms. Romano’s hate-filled rant against starving children comes when Christmas music permeates the airwaves and Christmas ads fill the newspaper. What could be more loving and Christ-like than to tell starving children that they’re on their own?

I invite Marcia Antoinette to Booker Elementary or to any of the dozens of elementary schools in the city where there are kids who will now eat over the weekend because of this program.

Paul Speirs

Las Vegas

Ethanol plan

To the editor:

The Review-Journal’s editors miss the mark when it comes to the benefits of homegrown, renewable ethanol to America’s economy, environment and national security (“No on ethanol,” Friday editorial).

In 2009, the ethanol industry contributed $53.3 billion to the nation’s GDP, created and supported more than 400,000 U.S. jobs, and reduced oil imports by 364 million barrels. And research shows that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 59 percent compared to gasoline.

As for the “food v. fuel” claim, countless academic and government studies, including a recent World Bank working paper, prove the skyrocketing grocery bills of two years ago should be blamed on market speculation and record oil prices — not ethanol.

The only reason the ethanol industry needs government support today is because we are arbitrarily denied access to all but 10 percent of the fuel market. Growth Energy’s Freedom Fueling plan would redirect tax credits to build out a national ethanol infrastructure, including “blender pumps” and “flex-fuel” vehicles, to allow access to fair and open market.

The ethanol industry plays a vital role in reducing our dependence on foreign oil and creating U.S. jobs, but we can do more with greater access to the market. Now is the time for leaders in Washington to take action to ensure ethanol becomes a cornerstone of a cleaner and more secure energy future.

Tom Buis

Washington, D.C.

The writer is a CEO of Growth Energy, a coalition of ethanol supporters from around the country.

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