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Letter: An Expensive Medical System Right Here

U.S. Medical Care Doesn’t Work

To the Editor:

The only thing John McLaughry said that I would agree with is that single-payer won’t work in Vermont (“Single-Payer Won’t Work,” Forum, Feb. 20). The current health care mess we’re in with medical delivery in this country can’t be solved at the state level where little or nothing can be done about our so-called free enterprise medical bureaucracy — which is anything but free enterprise and is tightly controlled by Big Pharma, insurance companies and for-profit hospital groups.

As someone who has had actual experience with single-payer in other countries (where, unlike the U.S., health care is considered a basic human right), I can tell you that when trying to explain the incredibly complex, and hugely expensive system in the United States, jaws drop and heads shake. I have not spoken with anyone in any foreign country who would exchange their system for ours. In fact many Americans are now traveling overseas for surgical or other medical treatment because the costs here are so unaffordable — hence the term “medical tourism.” Waiting lines, rationing (kind of like what insurance companies do now), declining quality of care, demoralized doctors, bureaucracies and especially increased taxes — inflammatory terms conservatives love to toss around, for the fear factor.

Regarding costs, a family policy here, with all its exclusions, copays, and deductibles, may have a yearly “premium” of $10,000 or more. For the moment, let’s stop calling it a “premium” and call it a “tax.” Whatever you call it, it’s money out of my pocket even if you’re lucky enough to have your employer pay part of the premium.

The United States already has by far the most expensive medical system in the world, and yet is the quality any better? By most measures, no. That ship (our superior health care) sailed several decades ago. I have always wondered why conservatives think our current Byzantine system is so wonderful that it shouldn’t be changed (except by reducing or eliminating Medicare/Medicaid), and why they endlessly criticize anyone who tries to improve the situation without ever offering any solutions of their own.

Richard DeRosa

Bradford, Vt.

Kindness All Around

To the Editor:

Kindness is still here.

We would like to thank the shopper at Hannaford’s who offered to help when my husband was having some health issues: to the workers who called 911; to the manager who took me to the front of the checkout line and got me to my car in time to follow the ambulance to the VA; and to the lady who said, “I saw your husband being put in the ambulance and wanted you to know I will pray for him.” To all of you who were there and helped, thank you.

Bob and Marilyn Wessel

North Hartland

Lebanon Sportsman Deserves Credit

To the Editor:

Great article by Don Mahler Feb. 24 about Lebanon High Nordic team competitors turning their training into winning. Les Lawrence deserves credit for running sports programs at Lebanon High in Nordic skiing, cross-country running (and football, years ago) that encourage young people to develop athletic skills and also to adopt healthy lifelong habits of exercise.

Les coached my sons 24 years ago, and following his example they have continued to be active. Not mentioned by name in the article is David Loney. A successful Ford Sayre masters ski racer himself, he has the vision that older racers should pass on secrets of training and technique to younger competitors, supporting life-style athletics in the club spirit. He single-handedly offered to Upper Valley young skiers the summer roller ski and strength training program that so benefited the winning young women Don highlighted in his article.

Jonathan Chaffee

West Lebanon