Most Americans already covered
July 2, 2009 · 7:32 AM
Peggy Burton (Letters, June 3) stated that “we the people want a single-payer” system for health care. Her views are not shared by everyone.
First she decries the “abysmal state of health care in this country.” Actually we have the best medical care in the world. Most critics confuse that reality with the facts that medical care is not universally available to every one (although that fault is largely overcome by Medicaid, which is funded by U.S. and state governments) and the number of people reported to be without so-called health insurance.
Those numbers are deceptive. Most Americans have some form of medical insurance through their employer. So anyone between jobs may lack coverage while unemployed. Many of those reported as lacking coverage by medical insurance choose to forego paying health care policy premiums, for any number of reasons. Those who rely on Medicaid would not be covered by private insurance. Most people over the age of 65 are covered by Medicare. Military personnel are provided with medical care and use a system known as Tricare. Many veterans are treated in hospitals operated by the Veterans Administration. Even though we do not have a single system that pays the medical insurance premiums for every citizen, people are not deprived of medical care. They are just covered by different “health-care” systems, or they choose to opt out of all systems. Remember, every person who comes into a hospital, or is carried in, is guaranteed treatment, regardless of citizenship or ability to pay for medical care. Some hospitals have been forced to close because of this unfunded mandate.
Historically, nationalized health-care systems have been abysmal failures. Both Canada and England have tried a single-payer system and people in need of medical care have been subjected to arbitrary treatment decisions, long waiting periods for lifesaving surgeries, outdated medical technologies, denial of high-cost drugs and general rationing of health care. These inefficiencies exist because politicians and bureaucrats make decisions about which doctors, hospitals and treatments you will have. There is even now discussion in Congress and the White House about denying expensive medical procedures to elderly patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other systems currently funded by the federal government.
So be careful what you ask for — the results are unlikely to meet the promise.
James K. Johnston, Ed.D.