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How do you 'shop' for an appendectomy?


Date published: 11/13/2012

I understand Bill Freehling's frustration and confusion regarding health care in America ["Who's to blame for insurance's rising cost?" Oct. 21]. But there are some points he overlooks.

His lead paragraphs (indeed all paragraphs but one) seem to indict patients for not "shopping" the best deals. Such an approach would put sick patients in the position of having to haggle price, terms, and treatment with their doctors. Would he subject his own family to such stress and humiliation?

Health insurance is not an auto, liability, fire, homeowners, renters, or business policy. Rather, it can be life and sometimes death.

Has Freehling ever overheard his doctor's medical secretary argue with a far-off, low-level health insurance clerk over a vital procedure, with the obviously ill patient suffering in the same waiting room? Seeing such a spectacle does change your perspective.

Freehling fails to consider two major drivers of health care costs in the U.S.:

Astronomical prices for drugs, justified by the costs of "research." Often, this is really market research--the incessant advertising on expensive news-hour broadcast TV--and "detail persons" who shower doctors with incentives to Rx their drugs.

The stratospheric salaries, bonuses, and other mysterious compensations for top executives in health insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

There are dozens more, but you get the idea. By the way, I am a retired foreign service officer whose life was saved by the Dutch "socialized" medical system.

Jesse Clear

Spotsylvania