GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

October 2, 2012

Letter: Private insurers, not feds, are killing health care

To the editor:

In a response to one of my letters, Dean Burgess condemned Medicare (letter, “Medicare inefficient, in danger of collapse,” the Times, Sept. 21).

He says that he has the cold hard facts to prove that Medicare is inefficient. As “proof” of Medicare’s inefficiency, he cites several cases of fraud that add up to a tiny fraction of 1 percent of all Medicare spending. But none of the facts he offers provide any means of comparison of Medicare with the enormously expensive private, for-profit insurance companies.

Comparing cost and performance demonstrates that government-sponsored health care systems like Medicare are clearly much more efficient.

Every other developed country has some sort of government-sponsored health care plan, and they are all strikingly more cost-effective than our largely private system. The National Health Service in the UK, for example, which covers every British citizen, costs about 8 percent of its Gross Domestic Product, while we are spending 17 percent of our GDP on health care.

The health care systems in other countries also produce better results than our system in terms of longevity, infant mortality, maternal mortality, and other metrics.

When a friend who had married a Dutchman became pregnant, I asked her whether she planned to come back to the U.S. to have her baby. “Do you think that I am crazy?” she asked. She explained that both she and her baby would have a much better chance of survival as patients of the public health care system in the Netherlands.

Mr. Burgess writes that Medicare will go bankrupt. That will only happen if our government turns its back on the most cost-effective part of our health care system.

Medicare is serving the American public so well that it is very popular. As much as the right-wing radicals want to kill it, voters will not let Medicare die. Instead, they will eventually realize how much better off we would be if we expanded Medicare to cover everyone.

MILT LAUENSTEIN

Gloucester and Exeter, N.H.

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