Letters to the editor:
Paying a High Price
I read Joe Sullivan's recent "Insights" piece on the horrors of private health insurance ["Health Insurance Lessons Learned the Hard Way." Vol. 10, No. 18] with sadness for the way your staff was affected, but with just a bit of hope for folks in general. As more and more people are victimized by our private health-insurance system, the support can only increase for public, universal coverage.
One thing Joe misses, though, is that countries that have universal, publicly-provided health insurance actually pay less than we do. Canada, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlandsall the industrialized democratic nationspay less per capita than the U.S. does, even though we leave 16 percent of our population out in the cold. Why? Because we pay for the duplicated services of thousands of private insurers, each with its own set of forms, each with its own rules for co-pays and individual office visits, each with its own way of rationing providers and procedures.
In Canada, for example, there are no co-pays, the national system covers prescription drugs, and yet they still pay less than we do for our ever shrinking, ever more expensive private coverage. The savings come from having a single payer, with a single set of rules set democratically rather than secretly by price-gouging CEOs. True, non-emergency surgery has to go on a waiting list, but wouldn't this be an acceptable price to pay for doing the right thingnow that we've tried everything else?
I would advise everyone to check out a website run by physicians who support single-payer universal coverage, www.pnhp.org, and a site for activists on this issue, www.uhcan.org. As Martin Luther King Jr. put it, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."
Consider the 'Cue
Wanted to take a moment and say how much I enjoyed the article on barbecue by Jack Neely ["'Cue Joints" from our spring 1999 restaurant guide]. I'm coming to Knoxville for the weekend, and his words have given me pause to consider a pork-based meal in the eastern part of the stateeven though I'm a Memphis native who's going to partake, tonight, of the above-mentioned fare at the world championship Memphis-in-May Contest down on the banks of the Old Man, before heading upstate.
It's good to see the out-of-the-way get such good press, and as a UT alum who hankers for the hills but lives on the bluff where barbecue reigns, thanks for the well-written heads-up on where to take a date to find some good local flavors in the town where the pigskin usually gets all the mention.