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Health care reform should not be brushed aside

Letters to the Editor

Matthew Cichocki

Issue date: 10/30/09 Section: Opinion
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I agree this country's health insurance system is in need of more than tax credits to fix its problems, as suggested in "Drastic Healthcare Reform Vital for Broken System," but the agreement stops there. I wish to present some facts for those interested in this debate to consider.

Significant increases in insurance premiums are offered as a reason for immediate reform. This trend is problematic, but one of its causes may be government actions. Currently, there are over 1900 federal or state insurance mandates. These are treatments that the state and federal government have decided every insurer in the respective jurisdiction must cover. For example, 45 states require insurers to pay for alcoholism treatment. Coverage for drug abuse treatment is mandated by 34 states. Three states mandate coverage for chlamydia, an STD. Ten states require coverage for wigs, while insurers in four states must cover morbid obesity treatment. Coverage for marriage therapists is a requirement in 14 states. The likelihood of me ever using these services is practically nil, but my insurance must cover them if my state says so and therefore my premium cost must reflect their possible use. When you want extra features in a new car, you pay extra. If government requires you to buy a fully loaded insurance plan, the price will rise accordingly.

The lack of competition among health insurers is also used to convince us of the need for reform. There are over 30 major health insurers and over 1700 total. If the government must increase competition for an industry with 1700 participants, what about other industries? The PC market is dominated by five major players that control 80 percent of the market share. These companies enjoy profit margins that dwarf the 5 percent average of most insurers. Are computers as vital as health insurance? Ask the average Case student what they need more at this point in their lives, health insurance or a robust laptop. Clearly, the government must create a computer company to even the playing field, no?

These issues regarding health insurance reform hardly scratch the surface of the debate. Perhaps more importantly, I offered my opinions without calling the author of the article that inspired them stupid, ignorant, or idiotic. The stakes of this debate are too high to be decided in the gutter. Let's do our best to raise the bar on the quality of the content of this important discussion.
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    posted 10/30/09 @ 3:17 PM EST

    Nice article, but one error. The letter you write about described the article author's ideas as stupid, ignorant, and idiotic, not the author herself. (Continued…)

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