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We'll see if the insurance industry can be ‘reformed'

Letters
South Maryland Newspapers, March 24, 2010

I can't pretend to be even cautiously optimistic that the health insurance reform legislation passed by Congress on Sunday will accomplish its goal of making health insurance more affordable. More importantly, I understand that having health insurance doesn't mean a patient can afford health care. I want my patients to be freed from the burden of worrying about how to pay for the care they need. I'm tired of having patients get tears in their eyes, or become embarrassed and feel ashamed because they can't afford the care I recommend.

The president and his Democratic leadership want us to believe that this legislation will, eventually, help ease that burden. We'll see. From my vantage point as a practicing physician, what I see is legislation that solidifies the stranglehold private, for-profit health insurance companies now have on the health insurance market. We will mandate that citizens purchase a defective product and subsidize the premiums with our tax dollars. I don't want my tax dollars going to the coffers of health insurance companies that take those dollars and turn around and pay them to the president and Congress in the form of campaign contributions, or pay them to themselves in the form of multimillion dollar salaries and bonuses. I don't want my tax dollars helping to purchase insurance products that I know darn well won't protect the holder of the insurance from going broke if he or she becomes seriously ill and actually has to use the insurance.

Every other developed country in the world can't be wrong. They have all figured out their own unique way to provide universal health care and are accomplishing it at half the cost per capita as we are and they have better health outcomes. None of them include a profit-driven health insurance industry.

We'll see if the insurance industry can be "reformed" and if that reformed industry can provide useful health insurance that is affordable and actually improves our health statistics.

While we're waiting, I plan to keep advocating for Improved Medicare for All. You can learn more about it at www.healthcare-now.org and join Southern Marylanders for Single Payer by contacting me at caparis52 (at) hotmail.com.

Dr. Carol A. Paris, Leonardtown

The writer is a member of Physicians for a National Health Program.