Thank you, Ryan Burns for writing on the new health care law ("Checkup," June 24). Oh, yes, it's true: It is "better than nuthin.'"
But wait! Doesn't any one stop to wonder why we should settle for such a pittance when our economy, our health and often our very lives depend on finding a real solution to the health care crisis? Yes, there are some very good starts in the new legislation. Medi-Cal and Healthy Families in Humboldt County are rescued temporarily, some controls exerted on the mega-powered insurance companies that make life altering money-based judgments on our health needs.
Naughty insurance companies! They will have to pay fines now if they abrogate these new rules! But guess what -- when the fines they pay are cheaper than playing by the rules (giving you the health care you need), guess what choices they'll make. Did anyone wonder why the stock values of the big insurance companies shot up when the legislation was passed? Did anyone wonder why they were so willing to get on board with the new law? Could it be the thousands and thousands of new customers who now must buy their questionable product? They will make even more money under this new deal. They will continue to raise rates across the nation and here in California, despite a new bill before our senate that seeks to examine their rationale for rate hikes. And costs for health care will continue to spiral out of control.
The fact is, for-profit health insurance is the dealbreaker. There is no feasible way to offer low-cost, effective, universal health care to the public with private insurance as a middle man. As much as 30 percent of every dollar we spend on insurance is eaten up by administrative costs; advertising, bonuses, mega-salaries, etc. Everything our governing bodies try to do to co-exist with this paradigm is nothing more than fingers in the dike. Because the insurance companies suck up the healthiest and wealthiest of the population, the burden of care and risk is borne by our government which means, in case you have forgotten, by us, the taxpayers.
We are already paying for the health care for the poor and ill among us who are denied preventative care and are driven to use ERs for primary care. We are already paying through the endless stop-gap programs supported by the state to take up the slack created by Big Insurance hoarding all the no-risk clients.
There is only one rational solution. Everybody in, nobody out. We are all in this together, we can make it work by creating a single-payer paradigm similar to, but tailored to our specific needs, systems adopted by other industrial, developed nations. There is currently a bill before our state legislature that will institute such a program. SB 810 (Mark Leno) is not socialized medicine but a gold-standard system. It offers full-choice, private delivery of care, public funding and stewardship. It is fiscally sound, will control cost increases, affordable for all, promotes better health and constitutes a true stimulus to business -- creating jobs, promoting productivity and delivering the state from its gridlock of financial meltdown.
California can no longer afford not to adopt this kind of system. Check it out at californiaonecare.org and get ready to join the rest of the civilized world, which sees taking care of its citizens not as a means to obscene profits for some but as a moral obligation to all.
Patty Harvey, Willow Creek