13 months later...
Your July 1 editorial regarding government health insurance was excellent. If the government is so incapable of providing this service, what are the private insurers afraid of? Why are the Republicans so afraid of trying something new when they have nothing better to offer? Is it that they are simply reactionaries who live in the past, or are the private-insurance lobbyists influencing them?
The Republicans never mention the problems people have with our current HMO system. I am insured with one of four major HMOs in San Diego. When I had neck problems, it took me seven-and-a-half months to get an MRI. I met with my primary-care doctor, a neurologist and a rheumatologist, and none of them would schedule an MRI. They all told me to request an MRI from one of the other doctors. I finally got the rheumatologist to refer me to a surgeon. I got lucky, as the HMO surgeon was ill, and they had to refer me to a surgeon outside of their network. The surgeon told me that the HMO hoped I would simply die, and that's how I felt.
While additional scheduling problems occurred, I felt that I was in good hands with the outside neurosurgeon. Note that I sat in the waiting room up to three-and-a-half hours to see the neurosurgeon, but that did not bother me. The frightening part was the apparent attempt by the HMO to withhold treatment. I had two disks fused in my neck (ACDF) on Oct. 5, 2004, 13 months after my initial visit to the primary-care doctor. The pain is 95 percent improved. I'm no longer in agony at work. I can swim, ride my bike and do work around the house.
Ron Harris, Scripps Ranch
Health reform effects all
You printed a letter in your July 22 issue from Steve Frederick on healthcare reform. Mr. Frederick pulled some numbers out of the air and then concluded that healthcare reform would affect only 8 percent of the American population and that the remaining 92 percent were content with the present healthcare system.
I would normally take issue with Mr. Frederick's calculations, but the basic assumption upon which his argument relies deserves a comment instead: Our healthcare system is broken even for those who are lucky enough to be insured. I have some real math. A recent Harvard study found that medical problems caused 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. in 2007. Of those filers, 78 percent had medical insurance at the start of their illness, including 60.3 percent who had private coverage.
Mr. Frederick, like all of us with insurance, are just one serious illness away from bankruptcy. Healthcare reform would affect all of us, not just 8 percent.
James P. Castranova II, South Park