Issue One: Universal health care

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Britain’s NHS

The Dec. 16 letter from Jim Roth (“With Single-Payer, Be Careful What You Wish For”) on the concept of a single-payer health care such as Britain’s National Health Service was correct on two points. The British taxes are higher than in the United States and one may have to wait for non-urgent surgery. A factor he omitted was a limit on expensive surgeries for the aged or “killing granny.”

Despite all of these negatives the NHS is revered by a huge majority of the British population, and I would lay a hefty wager that most Americans would also do so if and when such systems were available here. Why? The NHS does a good job in providing medical service to most people most of the time.

My wife and I experienced 14 satisfactory years as young adults with the NHS. We have many relatives and friends in Britain who are well satisfied with the NHS. While we are satisfied with our Medicare Advantage, it is expensive. I believe a single-payer system is needed in the United States.

Obamacare I hoped was the first step in that direction; I hope that it can be modified into something far less complicated.


Repeating myths

Reader Jim Roth in his Dec. 16 letter professes to be knowledgable about foreign health insurance but is just repeating the same old lies perpetuated by those opposed to the Affordable Care Act. I was born in the Netherlands and still have many relatives in that country. The value-added tax has nothing to do with health care; that is paid for by a social services income tax that also covers retirement and unemployment benefits.

There have been many studies showing that countries with universal health care spend about 30 to 40 percent less than the United States. Everyone in the Netherlands receives the same allowance for health care from the national government and is then responsible to contract with one of the many private insurance companies; one can choose the minimum package or negotiate add-ons and lower or higher co-pays. All doctors and hospitals are also private. In fact, the Dutch health care system is very similar to Medicare Part C, except that it applies to everyone.

My mother had a hip replacement at age 80, and I am not aware that it was ever questioned. There are no death panels; two years after my father had a massive stroke, he was on life support (ventilator, intravenous feeding) and the decision to end it was left up to his children.

Outside the Netherlands, my wife and I have close relatives in Canada, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, France, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, which all have universal health care; I am not aware of anyone having significant issues with their health care.


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