Readers Write: Start with healthcare issues where they count

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Editor:

Ron West’s comments on the medical system reflect several misunderstandings.

1. You can’t “reduce pay to physicians.” They are not, for the most part, anyone’s employees. They are independent business people. If you cut reimbursement from programs such as Medicare or Medicaid (or private insurance, for that matter) they are not required to accept those payments or treat those patients.

2. Hospitals are not “grossly overpaid.” The overhead of maintaining a large corps of highly trained people on duty 24 hours a day and doing all the other things required to run a hospital is spread among charges for all the services and materials. Yes, sometimes it results in absurdities like a $50 aspirin charge, but it wasn’t really just an aspirin; you paid part of the hospital’s overhead for having nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists and physical therapists and a bed ready when you needed them. And, the reality is that your insurer didn’t pay $50 just because that’s what was billed.

3. Ironically, Ron wasn’t “entirely sold” on the one sound suggestion, which is eliminating the insurance company middlemen. Medicare does very well without insurance companies, and processes the average claim faster and for far lower overhead than any insurance company. Medicare uses intermediary companies to handle the mechanics of processing and auditing claims. They are not, however, the insurers.

In order to solve the problem, you first have to really understand it. The biggest problem points are insurers and pharmaceutical companies. Start there.

Brian Weiss

Pasadena

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