A letter from a reader: Affordable health care for all

March 19, 2008:

In regards to your Dec. 12 article on the class run by Dr. Bill Frist '74 and Professor Uwe Reinhardt, it is great to see Dr. Frist turning his medical skills to promote policies in Africa to prevent deaths in children from a variety of diseases such as diarrhea and peumonia that are rare in the United States. In my opinion, it would also be greatly appreciated if he and Professor Reinhardt would support policies in this country that would lead to a health-care system that covers everyone and is affordable both for the individual and for state and national governments.

As an advocate for a single-payer system, it appears to me that this will be impossible unless we are able to reduce the overhead produced by the involvement of multiple for-profit insurance companies. These includes multiple forms to fill out by doctors and hospitals, extensive screenings to eliminate potential patients with "pre-existing conditions," marketing costs such as TV ads and visits to doctors' offices, high CEO salaries, and the need to make profits for investors. It is no wonder that our system costs twice as much per capita as those using a tax-supported, single-payer system, and leaves 47 million without coverage!

It also might be beneficial for Professor Reinhardt to spend some time in Africa as well. It sensitizes one to how cultural factors prevent a country from implementing simple preventive procedures, such as making clean water available to all. This makes it easier to see, on return, how our own absurdities are keeping us from implementing a system that works for many other countries around the world.

Sanibel, Fla.

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