Paying BillsAmy Donohue blames insurance companies for...


September 30, 1994

Paying Bills

Amy Donohue blames insurance companies for scuttling health care reform in Congress and for the health care ''crisis'' generally (letter, Sept. 18). I have seen many such letters in various papers over the last year or more, and their writers all have one thing in common: They have forgotten the purpose of insurance.

Insurance companies were set up in order to spread the risk of financial disaster out among a large group of people. Those people, having paid a modest fee or premium, got in return a guarantee of financial security if faced with, say, medical bills they would not ordinarily be able to pay on their own.

Unfortunately, that straightforward notion of insurance has been obscured and corrupted by our insistence that such insurance cover routine expenses as well. We have forgotten that it makes no sense to pay an insurance company to pay such small bills. If one can reasonably foresee that one's medical expenses in a given year are going to be, say, $1,000 for doctor's visits and medication, what sense is there in having one's insurance company pick up the tab?

One of the economic facts of life in this world is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everything that we acquire or consume has to be paid for, one way or another. There being no free lunch, the insurance company has costs it has to pay in order to process one's claim, such as the wages and salaries of its clerks and agents, its rent, its electric bill, et cetera. The end result is that the insurance company spends, say, $1,500 to pay the $1000 in claims. Where is the insurance company going to get that $1,500? Through an increase in one's premium. Surprise, surprise!

Wouldn't it make more sense to pay the doctor the $1,000 directly? It's cheaper.

Given our perception, made possible through overuse of insurance, that ''someone else'' is paying our medical bills; given needlessly high doctors' fees, made possible through our insistence on licensure laws which give doctors a monopoly in medical practice; and given our government's intervention in the form of tax breaks and subsidies which distort the market in health care, is it any wonder our health care system is seriously out of whack?

In short, we the people, not an evil conspiracy of insurance companies, are responsible for the ills of our country's health care system.

mos Hale Adams


Sauerbrey Insults

Delegate Ellen Sauerbrey, the Republican nominee for governor, is insulting the intelligence of every Maryland voter with her promise to cut taxes by 24 percent and provide tuition vouchers for private school students. Apparently she is relying on the supposed short-term memory of voters who do not remember when Gov. William Donald Schaefer tried to cut the budget and provide tuition vouchers. I remember, and I know others remember as well.

Whose oxen is she planning to gore to achieve such a tax cut? Yours, mine or all of ours? Are local governments to increase the piggyback and property taxes to make up for the loss of services? How is she going to do this? Does she think her salary as governor is approximately 24 percent of the state budget?

With regard to tuition vouchers for private school students, she is advocating Parochaid, i.e., aid to parochial schools, voted down in referendum by Maryland voters in 1972 and 1974. Basically, the voters said that it is wrong for government to compel people through taxation to contribute to the support of religious teachings, programs or institutions which they do not individually choose to support voluntarily. The voters knew then and know now that over 90 percent of non-public enrollment is in schools operated as independent institutions primarily for denominational religious purposes, in which curricula are permeated by a denominational point of view.

Persons of one particular faith should be free to use their own funds to strengthen the belief system of their particular religious group. But they should not expect all taxpayers, including those who adhere to other religious beliefs systems, to provide funds to teach religious views with which they do not agree. There is no more basic American principle than that all individuals be free to support only those religious institutions or enterprises they wish to support.

There is also the obvious violation of the First Amendment that would be encountered with the voucher proposal/promise. Does candidate Sauerbrey think that voters are really that ignorant of the principle of separation of church and state? They weren't in ++ 1972 and 1974, and they aren't now!

an Bridgewater


Hospital Expenses

The article about David Giggard (Sept. 22) and his wait for a liver transplant told an important and most welcome story about the need for organ donation.

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