Universal health care would cost U.S. less

Letter to the Editor
Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald
March 04, 2010

Like Sen. Judd Gregg, I also believe Congress needs to start over with its health care efforts — but for very different reasons.

The current Senate bill has many good features, including the elimination of pre-existing conditions as an excuse for denying insurance and the prohibition of denial of existing coverage when a patient becomes ill. But, as a member of the Physicians for a National Health Program, I feel the current reform efforts falls far short of the goals of PNHP — namely, providing universal health coverage for all Americans and eliminating the excessive waste of health insurance premiums. At present, more than 30 percent of health insurance premiums goes toward administrative expenses and profits. In contrast, administrative expenses under Medicare amount to 3 to 4 percent of expenses.

H.R. 676, which has been suppressed in the House of Representatives for several years, and was not even included in the discussions on health care reform, would provide universal coverage for all Americans under a single-payer health care system for less than what is currently being spent for health care in the United States.

It is a disgrace that the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not provide universal health care coverage, even though we currently spend 17 percent of our gross national product for health care. That is up to twice what other developed countries spend on health care, and they cover all of their citizens.

I would urge everyone to read T.R. Reid's book, "The Healing of America." In his book he describes how numerous developed countries provide high quality universal health care coverage. Mr. Reid describes a variety of systems, including single payer and private insurance-based systems.

All of these systems share these basic characteristics: Everyone is included in the health care system; they are all nonprofit; and they all have low administrative expenses.

After reviewing the facts (and ignoring the hyperbole), I urge everyone to contact their senators and representatives to push for true health care reform that provides universal coverage.

P.S. For more information, please visit

H. Dixon Turner, M.D.
Portsmouth, N.H.