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A Healthy Investment



"Healthcare For All," the single-payer initiative whose costs were so expertly unpacked by Drs. Frugoni and Ring ("Physicians for Single Payer," Jan. 11), has at its economic heart the unquantifiable maxim that "Health makes Wealth."

We, especially politicians, are too often mired in the upfront dollar costs of programs (even when they actually "pencil out," as in this case), ignoring the value of wellness to the overall economic and social functioning of our society. Early, accessible and consistent healthcare is an unmatched investment in reducing or eliminating many ailments that result in a diminished workforce: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, visual and hearing troubles, dental disease, heart and lung maladies, addiction, pregnancy and birth disorders and psychological distress leading to familial dysfunction, domestic violence and a host of others. Medical bankruptcies, an all too common source of personal and general misery, would be a thing of the past, and no small thing at that.

Ultimately, single payer is funded by ensuring that enrollees (all of us) are as healthy as can be, so that those who need advanced medical care are supported by a healthy workforce. Making sure everyone has an accessible primary care provider is the affordable way to safeguard our general health. No member of the healthcare team is more critical to this mission as the primary, who can intervene before dysfunction results and care becomes expensive.

Because single payer depends on a healthy population, its policies are naturally geared toward prevention and early interventions. The associated inevitable increase in numbers of primary care providers will confer upon everyone the unique security and value that is currently enjoyed by only a few.

For California, there is no better return on investment than single payer universal health care, which is why nearly every country has it.

Ken Miller, McKinleyville

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