Health care for all

By Garrett Adams, M.D.
Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), Letters, March 21, 2013

Humana’s sponsorship of Actors Theatre’s Festival of New Plays is unsettling to me. Why? Health insurance companies make profit for their shareholders in the following ways: by tightening administrative expenses, by restricting benefits, by refusing to insure bad risks, by steadily raising premiums, co-pays and deductibles and by denying claims.

A personal example: My friend Cheryl was a healthy young bicyclist with a successful legal career. She got leukemia. With treatment she went into remission. But, while waiting for insurance company approval to pay for a curative bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Hospital in Texas (more about MD Anderson in Time magazine, March 4), her leukemia relapsed, and she died.

Health care in this country is now a commercial enterprise, a way to get rich from the suffering of others. Personal tragedies lie especially at the feet of health insurance companies. Knowing the deep suffering caused by this broken system, we can understand that health insurance company underwriting of arts and civic projects, even though well-intended, is problematic. Some day, like other developed countries, we will have publicly funded national health insurance. Everyone will have high quality, affordable health care and no moral dilemmas about financing the arts.

Garrett Adams, M.D., M.P.H., resides in Louisville.