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Web Letter

A simple bill. All United states citizens shall be afforded health care. 1040 question. Do you wish to have health care added to your deductions pro rated on your adjusted irs reported income?

ALL WAGE EARNERS AND HEADS OF HOUSEHOLDS SHALL FILE A RETURN TO QUALIFY REGARDLESS OF INCOME?

IF YES CHECK THIS BOX []IF NO CHECK THIS BOX []

Private, for-profit, health does not work. We tried privatizing the military, the jury is still out on private schools, and I shudder to think what a private police force would look like. The present police force is bad enough. I also read that some states want to sell their interstate high ways to Saudi Arabia or the like.

Question: Why do we pay 140 for a month's supply of pills made in Germany and Germany sells those same pills to a supplier, including shipping, for 18.00 dollars. Research and development, my foot, most R AND D is funded by the governments.

James Pinette

Caribou, Maine

Mar 28 2008 - 10:35am

Web Letter

The article mentions, then passes without comment, one key issue raised in the healthcare financing debate. It states that annual premiums for a family now average $12,000.

Personally, with the exception of the costs related to the birth of our children and one accident I had, I have never had healthcare costs that high. Annual physicals for everyone in our family, the occassional visit for allergies, ear aches, or other minor/mid-major illnesses or accidents, never cost near that amount.

Looking back, if my family had never had health insurance but instead paid everything out of pocket, I'm confident we'd've been better off financially. That is particularly true if we could assume that our employers would have paid us their part of the premiums (which right now work out to be a subsidy of about two-thirds.)

Obviously, insurance is forward-looking (at least in theory) so we can't completely rely on our past experience to protect agains future costs. A car accident on the way home tonight or the discovery of some cancer or illness could wipe us out if we don't have insurance. But basic preventive care or first aid, the bare minimums of what society should provide to everyone, are generally inexpensive in the US. Before we just accept $12,000 as a figure we need to pay, we need to define what the societal provided minimums should be.

Keenan Pawley

Louisville, KY

Mar 28 2008 - 9:12am

Web Letter

Until we address fundamentals, no healthcare system put in place will work to be both financially viable and to cover all Americans.

In the US we have a culture that doesn't want to ration healthcare, so $1 million to prolong someone's life by only one year is OK but $10,000 toward preventative medicine for a poor family with children is not available. We have pharmaceutical companies pushing hugely expensive drugs for profits and private citizens too often unwilling to accept responsibility for their personal health.

Add to the mix an irrational liability climate, a belief that death is unnatural, an addiction to expensive high-tech over lower-cost complementary medicine, and the end result is what we have now.

Only when we start addressing step-by-step the issues listed above (among others) will we move toward an effective solution.

Chris Andre

San Jose, CA

Mar 27 2008 - 3:44pm

Web Letter

Ms. Lieberman's assertions about the funding of France's healthcare system are inaccurate to the best of my knowledge. The system is heavily financed by employers and employees, based on employment revenues, not on all revenues regardless of employment.

The French system has gone further and further into debt as both the nature of medical care, patients' expectations from it, and doctors' training evolve.

The recourse to extremely expensive technologically assisted medicine, at the expense of sound clinical training, is a disaster for everyone's pocketbook. Moreover, the general public's assumption that this type of medical care is the ultimate in progress and efficiency only aggravates the problem. Add to that the fact that the insurance industry and the insurance mentality ensure that doctors must prescribe sophisticated and expensive laboratory tests for what are often banal conditions that could be treated otherwise, and you have conditions that will bankrupt any healthcare system, single-payer or not.

Debra Weston Mervant

Saint Egreve, France

Mar 27 2008 - 2:01am

Web Letter

Healthcare for everyone, paid for by taxes, will not happen anytime soon. It sounds like a good idea until the cost is discussed. The current system or non-system is perhaps even worse except for its cost, postponed and hidden rather than up front. In fact, the only solution to the healthcare problem is to let the sick and indigent die on their own, without any taxpayer help. This sounds cruel, but actually it is in the interest of the vast majority of Americans. Those with serious illnesses cannot economically be helped. They would do themselves and everyone else a favor by dying as quickly as possible.

The notion that everyone can be made happy in this life and then offered a happy death is utopian. Utopian thought is dangerous and unrealistic. Pray for the sick if you must, but don't pay to prolong their lives.

The living must go on living, the near dead must die. Nature is red in tooth and claw, as Tennyson lamented over one hundred years ago.

Norman Ravitch

Savannah, GA

Mar 25 2008 - 5:40pm

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