Many choose to do without health coverageVirtually...

the Forum

November 05, 1993

Many choose to do without health coverage

Virtually everyone in America today has access to some level of health insurance. From the richest millionaire to the criminal shot committing his crime, no one is turned away from the publicly subsidized shock trauma treatment centers at major hospitals.

The politicians in Washington, however, are now clamoring for "universal health coverage."

They claim that 38 million Americans do not have coverage. Never mind that their own statistics show that more than half of these people have health insurance available to them and simply elect not to pay the cost.

These people have elected to keep their insurance money, take their chances, and remain uncovered. This means that, in reality, about 17 million Americans (fewer than 7 percent) are really without health care.

Many of these are lower-income people who routinely use the emergency rooms of major hospitals as a sort of informal outpatient clinic when they are sick and injured. Once again, the insurance companies and paying patients pick up part of the tab, through higher health care costs.

The country is being asked to abandon the present system of health care and insurance coverage in favor of a loosely defined "universal" plan cooked up by the Washington bureaucrats.

I am not that enamored of my family's current health care package or the health care industry in general. But I sure am not ready to trade it for a plan developed and run by the crowd in Washington. After all, look at their track record.

Iver Mindel

Cockeysville

Man of decade

In view of his seemingly endless capacity for compassion in the aftermath of an ugly and tragic set of circumstances that I still have difficulty accepting or understanding, I nominate for man of the decade: Reginald Denny.

Garland L. Crosby

Baltimore

A disgrace

In both the Denny trial and the King trial, I believe the respective judges could have said to the respective juries what a judge said in another case 60 years ago:

"Ladies and gentlement, in all my years on the bench I have never witnessed such disdain of truth and evidence as you have manifested this day.

"That you could on hearing the meticulous case presented by the . . . government . . . find the defendant not guilty . . . so staggers my faith in the judicial process that I can only wonder about the future of this republic.

You are dismissed with no thanks from the court for your service. You are a disgrace."

Philip E. Nuttle Jr.

Denton

Pros and cons of Clinton's health plan

Regarding S. S. Neumann's column "A case study shows why Clinton shouldn't cap Medicare" (Oct. 26), the article gives a distorted, misleading impression of Medicare because she never mentions a very significant provision known as the "limiting charge."

Ms. Neumann seems completely unaware that the law was changed in 1989 so that, starting in 1991, physicians who do not accept the amount approved by Medicare as total payment for services are limited as to the amount they can charge for those services.

In 1992, the most a doctor could charge was 120 percent of what Medicare approved. Since 1993 it has been 115 percent. If a physician charges more than these amounts, he is subject to sanctions. . . .

Another problem I had with Ms. Neumann's article was her statement that "Medicare had a $652 deductible for each of my two hospital stays."

This is not how the program works. Ms. Neumann should not have had to pay a second $652 deductible.

There is only one inpatient hospital deductible per benefit period. If she paid a second $652 deductible, it was clearly an error, and she should get a refund from the hospital.

Ms. Neumann's article deals with an important problem -- the burden of out-of-pocket expenses not covered by health insurance.

Ms. Neumann suggested one solution -- increase the amount of Medicare reimbursement by increasing the amount of the approved charge, so a person would have a smaller co-insurance amount to pay.

There have been other proposed solutions to the problem, such as setting a maximum limit on out-of-pocket expenses, which is the one the Clinton plan has proposed for the non-Medicare population.

The Clinton plan would set limits on consumer "out-of-pocket costs" for doctors, hospitals and other health services: $1,500 a year for an individual and $3,000 a year for a family. The Medicare program has no such overall limits.

Another proposed solution would be to change the Medicare law so that all providers would have to accept assignment.

If that were to happen and a person had supplementary insurance to pay the deductibles and co-insurance, there would be no out-of-pocket expenses for covered services. . . .

artin Horowitz

Randallstown

Not shocked by students cheating

Am I shocked that "Who's Who Among American Students" has discovered that cheating is rampant in high schools across America or that 80 percent of top U.S. students admit to dishonesty? No, I am not.

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